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Written Answers to Questions

Friday 8 June 1990

NORTHERN IRELAND

Accountancy Firms

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether, further to his reply to the hon. Member for Great Grimsby on 15 January, Official Report, column 17, he will provide a list of the accountancy firms used by his Department.

Mr. Cope : The information requested was given in my reply to the hon. Member on 20 April (Vol. 170, column 1044 ). That answer included one firm, John Compton Associates, which was not employed on accountancy work. The figures given in my reply on 15 January to the hon. Member also included some firms not employed on accountancy work and contained an element of double counting. I am grateful for the opportunity to clarify the position.

EDUCATION AND SCIENCE

Science Teachers

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement about the numbers of science teachers he expects to be employed in schools in 1991.

Mr. Alan Howarth : It is for LEAs and schools to decide what teachers to employ and how to deploy them. It is therefore not possible to estimate with any precision how many teachers will be employed and in which subjects. In 1988--the most recent year for which figures are available-- provision for science in secondary schools in England was made by the equivalent of some 27,600 full-time teachers. We expect that in 1991 a similar number of science teachers will be needed.

School Closures

Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many schools were closed in each of the past five years in the Wiltshire education authority area.

Mr. Alan Howarth : The number of schools which were closed in each of the past five years in the Wiltshire education authority area was as follows :


Year   |Number       

---------------------

1989   |5            

1988   |6            

1987   |1            

1986   |None         

1985   |8            


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Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many schools were closed in each of the past five years within the area now covered by Greenwich local education authority.

Mr. Alan Howarth : Greenwich local education authority came into being on 1 April 1990. Information on school closures in Greenwich is not readily available before this date as it is not possible to identify accurately those schools in the former Inner London education authority that fall within the Greenwich area. Information on schools closures held by the Department is coded at local education authority level. The codings could be subdivided to areas below this level only with the assistance of LEAs concerned, and would involve disproportionate cost.

The Department is not currently aware of any closures in Greenwich since April 1990.

Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many schools were closed in each of the past five years in the Cambridgeshire education authority area.

Mr. Alan Howarth : The number of schools which were closed in each of the past five years in the Cambridgeshire education authority area was as follows :


       |Number       

---------------------

1989   |8            

1988   |12           

1987   |7            

1986   |10           

1985   |16           

Students

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will publish in the Official Report the number of (a) undergraduate and (b) postgraduate students in England who have home addresses in Wales.

Mr. Jackson : The requested information is as follows :


|c|Welsh domiciled full-time and part-time higher education students in|c|   

|c|England, 1988-89|c|                                                       

                 |Postgraduates |Undergraduates|Total                        

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Universities     |1,177         |6,971         |8,148                        

Polytechnics and                                                             

 Colleges        |492           |9,247         |9,739                        

Source: Universities Statistical Record.                                     

Further Education Statistical Record.                                        

Youth Service

Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was local government expenditure on the voluntary sector of the youth service in 1990 and equivalent figures for 1979-80 and each year from 1984-85 to 1989-90.

Mr. Alan Howarth : There have been several changes over the period 1979-80 to 1988-89 in the coverage of the categories in local education authority spending returns which relate to expenditure by local education authorities on the voluntary youth service. So it is not possible to give the figures requested on a comparable basis. As a rough guide, however, the trend in spending in the relevant categories is estimated as :


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               |£ million cash               

---------------------------------------------

1979-80        |9.0                          

1984-85        |17.2                         

1985-86        |18.7                         

1986-87        |18.0                         

1987-88        |17.5                         

1988-89        |20.6                         

Figures for subsequent years are not yet available.

Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list by education authority (a) expenditure on the voluntary sector of the youth service and (b) the related grant-related expenditure allocation for 1988-89 and 1990-91.

Mr. Alan Howarth : Not all local education authorities have yet submitted spending returns for 1988-89. Of those that have, 23 have recorded expenditure on services provided by voluntary associations relating to the youth service, as follows :


                    |£'000s              

-----------------------------------------

Bexley              |15                  

Bromley             |51                  

Croydon             |227                 

Merton              |53                  

Birmingham          |921                 

Coventry            |109                 

Knowsley            |1                   

Wirral              |90                  

Bolton              |34                  

Rochdale            |102                 

Doncaster           |38                  

Bradford            |750                 

Newcastle-upon-Tyne |7                   

South Tyneside      |79                  

Avon                |1,129               

Buckinghamshire     |152                 

Devon               |492                 

Humberside          |217                 

Lancashire          |368                 

North Yorkshire     |101                 

Oxfordshire         |90                  

Suffolk             |83                  

Warwickshire        |6                   

                    |-----               

England             |Total |5,115        

No figures are yet available for spending in 1990-91. There has been no sum specifically identified for spending on the voluntary sector of the youth service within the grant-related expenditure or standard spending assessments of individual LEAs.

Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was central Government expenditure on the voluntary sector of the youth service in (a) 1990, (b) 1979-80 and (c) each year from 1984-85 to 1989-90.

Mr. Alan Howarth : The information is not readily available in the form requested. The table sets out total expenditure by the Department on the youth service as a whole. While the majority of this expenditure is specifically on voluntary work in the field, the figures include payments for general support made direct to national youth bodies.


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|c|Expenditure on the youth service|c|      

£ thousand                                  

Financial  |Current   |Capital<1>           

years                                       

--------------------------------------------

1979-80    |1,623     |4,003                

1984-85    |3,158     |263                  

1985-86    |3,493     |511                  

1986-87    |3,592     |536                  

1987-88    |3,727     |511                  

1988-89    |3,940     |463                  

1989-90    |4,190     |368                  

1990-91<2> |4,577     |651                  

<1> From 1981-82, the responsibility for    

grant-aid for local voluntary building      

projects for the youth service and for      

village halls and community centres         

devolved to local government.               

<2> Estimates provision.                    

A-Levels

Mr. Walden : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what plans the Government have for the future of A-levels.

Mrs. Rumbold : The Government are committed to maintaining the standards of A-level and Advanced Supplementary examinations and improving their effectiveness in meeting the needs of students and the requirements of higher education and employment.

My right hon. Friend asked the School Examinations and Assessment Council last August to draw up general principles to govern Advanced level syllabuses and examinations, with a view to having an improved system in place by 1994. These principles will provide controls on standards, syllabus development and progression from GCSE. Draft principles will be considered by the council in July, before wider consultation.

My right hon. Friend has also more recently asked the council to advise him in July on the scope for embodying in the programmes of all Advanced level students a range of core skills needed for adult working life ; and on the possibilities for credit transfer between Advanced level and vocational qualifications.

My right hon. Friend will consider carefully the implications of what the council proposes.

Voluntary-aided Schools

Mr. Straw : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will set out the criteria which his Department applies in considering requests for the establishment of new voluntary-aided schools.

Mr. MacGregor : Under section 13 of the Education Act 1980 a voluntary body of any religious persuasion which wishes to establish a new voluntary aided school, whether or not the school already exists as an independent school, is free to seek the approval of the Secretary of State, after consulting the relevant local education authority. When making the decision whether to approve an application for voluntary-aided status, the Secretary of State considers each case on its merits, taking account of a number of factors, including :

(i) the overall need for school places in the area, as well as denominational need ;

(ii) whether the proposal has the support of the LEA, which would be responsible for the cost of maintaining the VA school ; (

(iii) whether the premises are up to standard ;


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(iv) whether the teachers are suitably qualified and the school is able and willing to deliver the national curriculum and to provide equal opportunities for boys and girls ;

(v) whether the promoters are able to meet the expenses which would fall to them.

OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT

Know-how Fund

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the use of the know-how fund to date.

Mrs. Chalker : Expenditure for 1989-90 under the know-how fund for Poland was £2.3 million. The know-how fund for eastern Europe now covers operations in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic. Commitments are growing rapidly, and we expect to spend fully the £15 million available for expenditure in the current financial year.

Mr. Jim Lester : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has any plans to provide assistance in support of Operation Lifeline II in Sudan.

Mrs. Chalker : I have allocated £3 million, of which I have pledged £1 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross for its relief operations in southern Sudan. The balance will be apportioned between British non-governmental organisations and international agencies once their specific appeals have been received and evaluated.

NATIONAL FINANCE

War Loan

Mr. Wallace : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the cost to the Treasury of holders of 3 per cent. war loan having their stocks redeemed at par value.

Mr. Ryder : The cost of redeeming 3 per cent. war loan at par would be £1,909 million.

Tax Returns

Miss Lestor : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people from whom a completed tax return was not obtained because, after inquiries, they could not be traced there were in 1988-89 and 1989-90.

Mr. Lilley : No count is maintained. Address details are nearly always held for the people from whom returns are wanted.

Gross National Product

Mr. Devlin : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will tabulate for each fiscal year since 1963-64 the proportion of gross national product represented by (a) public expenditure, (b) taxation and (c) the public sector borrowing requirement.

Mr. Lilley : The information requested is in the table.


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|c|As a percentage of money GDP|c|                                    

              |General      |Taxes and    |PSBR                       

              |government   |national                                 

              |expenditure  |insurance                                

              |(GGE)        |contributions                            

----------------------------------------------------------------------

1963-64       |36.2         |29.1         |3.3                        

1964-65       |35.8         |29.5         |2.7                        

1965-66       |37.2         |31.2         |2.6                        

1966-67       |38.7         |32.0         |2.9                        

1967-68       |42.4         |33.3         |4.9                        

1968-69       |40.9         |35.2         |0.8                        

1969-70       |40.3         |36.9         |-1.3                       

1970-71       |40.6         |36.3         |1.5                        

1971-72       |41.1         |34.7         |1.6                        

1972-73       |40.6         |32.4         |3.6                        

1973-74       |42.7         |33.2         |5.8                        

1974-75       |48.0         |35.6         |9.0                        

1975-76       |48.4         |36.1         |9.2                        

1976-77       |45.9         |35.7         |6.4                        

1977-78       |42.3         |34.6         |3.6                        

1978-79       |43.2         |33.8         |5.3                        

1979-80       |43.2         |35.0         |4.8                        

1980-81       |45.8         |36.2         |5.3                        

1981-82       |46.3         |39.3         |3.3                        

1982-83       |46.5         |38.8         |3.1                        

1983-84       |45.4         |38.4         |3.1                        

1984-85       |45.5         |39.1         |3.0                        

1985-86       |43.7         |38.5         |1.6                        

1986-87       |42.3         |37.9         |0.9                        

1987-88       |40.0         |37.9         |-0.8                       

1988-89       |37.3         |37.2         |-3.0                       

<1>1989-90    |38.1         |36.7         |-1.5                       

<1> PSBR is outturn, GGE, and taxes and NICs are 1990 budget          

estimates. Ratios are adjusted for the distortion to money GDP        

arising from the abolition of domestic rates.                         

TRANSPORT

London Bus Routes

Mr. John Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many bus routes have been put out to tender by London Regional Transport ; and what savings have been achieved.

Mr. Freeman : To date approximately 180 routes have been put out to tender, which is about 25 per cent. of the London Regional Transport bus network. LRT estimates that tendering of routes has resulted in real net savings of some 15 per cent. on total operating costs.

Vehicle Emissions

Mr. Dunn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what further provisions he is making to reduce emissions from motor vehicles ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins : Amendments to the Construction and Use Regulations were laid before the House on 5 June.

The new amendments follow up European requirements on gaseous emissions that are already being applied in the Type Approval Regulations. They also apply the strict stage II emission limits for small cars set by Community directive 89/458 from 31 December 1992. This means that virtually all new petrol-engined cars from 1993 onwards will need to be fitted with catalysts.

Limits on particulate emissions from diesel cars are also introduced.

The regulations require the user of a vehicle to keep the engine in tune and any emission control equipment, such as a catalyst, in good working order. It is important for drivers to recognise this responsibility and it is in their own


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interest to do so. Keeping the engine in tune helps to reduce fuel consumption as well as keeping emissions down.

The new regulations also introduce the first gaseous emission limits for lorries and buses. Community directive 88/77 covers diesel-engined vehicles over 3.5 tonnes gross weight. These limits for heavy duty diesels are just a first step. The Commission has just announced proposals for a substantial tightening of these limits and the introduction of a particulate standard. However, they do not go quite as far as I would like. The Government believe that for the mid-1990s the European Community should adopt limits for other gaseous and particulate emissions as close as possible for the United States 1994 standards, which are the strictest worldwide.

Business Aviation

Mr. Warren : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has received representations from companies operating in the United Kingdom concerning their possible need to relocate to continental bases because of current restrictions at London Heathrow on business aviation.

Mr. McLoughlin : My right hon. Friend has received representations concerning the restrictions on business aviation at Heathrow, asserting that adequate access to the airport is important to maintain the United Kingdom's international competitiveness. It has also been stated that inadequate access could lead business aircraft owners and operators to relocate to other countries, but specific cases have not been put to us.

Mr. Warren : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what evidence has been obtained by his Department from business aircraft operators concerning their operations at London's airports following publication of document CAP 559.

Mr. McLoughlin : My Department has frequent and continuing contacts with business aviation interests through which it obtains information and views on the effects of Government policy in this area.

Mr. Warren : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will review the competitiveness of London's airport provision for business aviation ; if he will make a comparable assessment of the strategy of the Paris airports ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. McLoughlin : Business aviation interests keep before us their views on the sector's needs in the London area. It is our policy that the peripheral London airports should accommodate business aviation displaced from Heathrow and Gatwick. If the industry felt that a dedicated facility on the lines of Paris Le Bourget was desirable, we should expect it to develop proposals.

Air Service Agreements

Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the current round of talks with the United States of America on bilateral air service agreements.

Mr. McLoughlin : Negotiations are continuing.


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DEFENCE

Plutonium Contamination

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans or studies have been made by his Department to assess what measures would have to be taken in the event of contamination by airborne plutonium resulting from a nuclear weapons accident aboard a Royal Navy ship docked at Greenwich ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans or studies have been made by his Department to assess measures that would have to be taken in the event of contamination by airborne plutonium resulting from a nuclear weapons accident aboard a Royal Navy ship docked at Greenwich.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : It has been the policy of successive British Governments neither to confirm nor to deny the presence of nuclear weapons on Her Majesty's ships. There are, however, detailed contingency plans for dealing with the extremely remote possibility of an accident involving the release of radioactive material from a weapon while in the custody of the Royal Navy, and these include plans to deal with such an accident on board a warship.

Mr. Jonathan Moyle

Mr. Galloway : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the capacities in which the late Jonathan Moyle served Her Majesty's Government ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : Royal Air Force records show that the late Jonathan Moyle served as an officer in the Royal Air Force from 1980 to 1988.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Benefits (Blyth Valley)

Mr. Ronnie Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the total sum of unclaimed social security benefits in Blyth Valley and Northumberland in the latest convenient 12-month period.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : Such estimates can be made only at national level.

Local Offices

Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he has any plans to increase the local office allocations previously announced to the House ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Scott : We have no plans to do so, but are continuing to monitor local office budgets closely.

I regret that there were errors in the list of 1990-91 social fund budget allocations in the Official Report on 26 March at column 35 for Portsmouth, South and Havant local offices. Boundary changes in Birmingham, following the closure of Birmingham Bradford street office, and in London South region have also resulted in revised allocations to four offices. The amended allocations for the offices concerned are set out in the table.


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                      |Loans  |Grants         

                      |£      |£              

----------------------------------------------

Havant                |198,973|78,996         

Portsmouth South      |222,318|84,125         

Birmingham Ladywood   |623,631|260,652        

Birmingham Ravenhurst |492,642|214,821        

Oval                  |370,937|179,390        

Balham                |480,070|205,798        

Posts (Newcastle)

Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many of the jobs announced in April for the Newcastle Central office at Long Benton are (a) existing posts relocated to Newcastle and (b) completely new additions to his Department's overall manpower.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : Of the 1,000 jobs to be located at the Newcastle site for the contributions agency, 800 are existing posts from the Department's regional organisation dealing with contributions record keeping. The centralisation of this function will enable a better service to


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be provided. The offsetting staff savings will fall in very small numbers over approximately 450 local offices throughout the country. About 200 new posts will be created to form the headquarters of the agency, but because of efficiency savings overall there will be no commensurate increase in the Department's total manpower.

National Insurance

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the average amount of national insurance paid by (a) married men and (b) single men, in the age groups (i) 16 to 20 years, (ii) 20 to 25 years, (iii) 25 to 30 years, (iv) 30 to 35 years, (v) 35 to 40 years, (vi) 40 to 45 years, (vii) 45 to 50 years, (viii) 50 to 55 years, (ix) 55 to 60 years and (x) 60 to 65 years, in the last five years.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : The information is not available in the exact form requested. The latest available information which relates to 1987 is in the table.


|c|Average amounts of National Insurance paid, 1987<1> (£ per week)|c|                                            

                                      |Single men paying                    |Married men paying                   

                   |All single        |contributions (all|All married       |contributions (all                   

Age group          |men               |classes)          |men               |classes)                             

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

16-19              |3.37              |6.73              |7.92              |7.92                                 

20-24              |8.21              |11.35             |9.13              |12.42                                

25-29              |10.85             |13.39             |11.83             |14.09                                

30-34              |10.53             |13.83             |13.70             |15.78                                

35.39              |9.99              |13.94             |14.20             |16.07                                

40-44              |9.78              |14.05             |14.26             |16.29                                

45-49              |9.31              |14.44             |13.45             |15.50                                

50-54              |8.74              |12.93             |11.59             |14.63                                

5-59               |8.29              |12.43             |10.26             |13.84                                

60-64              |4.78              |13.26             |5.96              |12.40                                

<1> Source Family Expenditure Survey, 1987.                                                                       

Fraud

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his latest estimate of the amount defrauded from the social security system as a total cash amount and as a number of pence on the basic rate of income tax.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : No reliable estimate is available of the cost of fraudulent social security claims.

Disabled Young People

206. Mr. Jerry Hayes : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he has any plans to improve the benefit entitlement of disabled young people.

Mr. Scott : Yes. We propose that where single young people of 16 to 17 who qualify for the disability premium are claiming income support independently from their parents, they should in future be entitled to the higher rate of personal allowance normally appropriate for those of 18 to 24. Thus their income support rate, including the premium, will rise from £37.30 to £44.20.

We estimate that this will help some 4,000 disabled young people at an annual cost of £1,500,000. Regulations to provide for this change are being laid today, with a view to bringing it into effect from 2 July 1990.


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Separated Parents

Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he has any plans to assist separated parents by the provision of financial assistance towards long-distance travelling costs of accommodation.

Mr. Scott : A separated parent may obtain help with these costs from the social fund. If receiving income support, he or she may be awarded a community care grant, whether for visiting a child living with the other parent pending a custody decision, or where the child or other parent is ill, or where the payment would ease a domestic crisis. Alternatively, crisis loans are available to anyone where payment is the only means of avoiding serious risk or damage to the health or safety of the applicant or a member of his family. We have no plans to alter these arrangements.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Manufacturing Industry

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what information he has of the total cost to public funds on an absolute and per-employee basis of support for manufacturing industry and on both national and regional levels in the five most recently available years in (a) France, (b) West Germany, (c) Italy, (d) Denmark and (e) the United Kingdom.


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Mr. Douglas Hogg : The information is as follows :