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Mr. Norman Lamont : Real personal disposable income rose by 5 per cent. between the third quarter of 1987 and the third quarter of 1988. Latest estimates show that in 1988 as a whole, real personal disposable income also rose 5 per cent.

Company Returns

158. Mr. Gerald Bowden : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the percentage increase in 1987 in the net real rate of return for non-North sea industrial and commercial companies.

176. Mr. Patrick Thompson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the percentage increase in 1987 in the net real rate of return for non-North sea industrial and commercial companies.

Mr. Major : The net real rate of return for non-North sea industrial and commercial companies rose a further 15 per cent. in 1987 to reach 10.2 per cent., its highest level for 18 years.

Pensioners (Income)

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the change in the post-tax income of pensioners since 1979.

Mr. Norman Lamont : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply that my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, North (Sir T. Skeet).

Employee Share Ownership

Mr. Ian Taylor : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the latest figures he has for the growth in employee ownership among firms in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Norman Lamont : Nearly 1,600 all-employee share schemes have been approved, against 30 in 1979. More than 1 million employees have been given shares or options over shares under these schemes, with an initial market value in excess of £4 billion.

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Vehicle Excise Duty

185. Mr. Rathbone : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the value of vehicle excise duty in the current financial year will be.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Revenue (in cash terms) from vehicle excise duty (VED) is estimated at £2,775 million for financial year 1988-89 and £2,889 million for 1989-90. Rates of VED for all vehicles are contained in leaflet VI49, "Rates of Vehicle Excise Duty", which is available in the House of Commons Library.

Railway Accidents

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the total number of fatal and non-fatal casualties for all railway accidents involving only railway employees in each year since 1959.

Mr. Portillo : This information is not available in the form requested. Details of the total number of railway employees killed or injured in accidents each year are given in the chief inspecting officer of railways' annual report, copies of which have been placed in the House of Commons Library. It is estimated from available data that the number of casualties sustained in accidents involving only railway employees is not significantly less than the overall total of staff casualties in all accidents.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the date and place and the number of fatal and non-fatal casualties for all railway accidents involving non-railway employees in each year since 1959.

Mr. Portillo : I regret that this information is not available.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what comparative information he has as to the number of accidents per million passenger train miles operated in the United Kingdom, other European Community countries, the United States of America and Japan ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Portillo : In 1987, the significant accident rate per million train miles in the United Kingdom was 0.71. Directly comparable data for other countries is not readily available but inquiries are being made with the appropriate authorities. I will write to my hon. Friend when I have further details.

British Rail (Capital Investment)

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will detail at constant 1988-89 prices the total capital investment in British Rail in each year since 1959 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Portillo : British Rail has recently compiled the following table showing investment in the railway since 1948. The figures include investment in Freightliners, BRML and BREL, but exclude the laying of continuous welded track which British Rail does not now classify as investment.

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                         |£ million cash          |£ million 1988-89 prices                         


1948                     |40                      |572                                              

1949                     |44                      |607                                              

1950                     |43                      |591                                              

1951                     |41                      |519                                              

1952                     |38                      |444                                              

1953                     |56                      |631                                              

1954                     |63                      |710                                              

1955                     |68                      |731                                              

1956                     |90                      |916                                              

1957                     |120                     |1,171                                            

1958                     |134                     |1,255                                            

1959                     |154                     |1,433                                            

1960                     |147                     |1,353                                            

1961                     |130                     |1,156                                            

1962                     |94                      |810                                              

1963                     |73                      |612                                              

1964                     |83                      |673                                              

1965                     |92                      |709                                              

1966                     |81                      |599                                              

1967                     |65                      |463                                              

1968                     |58                      |401                                              

1969                     |39                      |253                                              

1970                     |48                      |289                                              

1971                     |59                      |328                                              

1972                     |73                      |376                                              

1973                     |81                      |389                                              

1974                     |103                     |432                                              

1975                     |157                     |518                                              

1976                     |176                     |506                                              

1977                     |193                     |484                                              

1978                     |208                     |468                                              

1979                     |248                     |491                                              

1980                     |304                     |501                                              

1981                     |277                     |410                                              

1982                     |243                     |334                                              

1983                     |252                     |329                                              

<1>1984                  |280                     |349                                              

1985-86                  |399                     |465                                              

1986-87                  |399                     |450                                              

1987-88                  |526                     |563                                              

1988-89                  |-                       |<2>596                                           

<1>1984-85 was a 15-month financial period. The figure shown for 1984 is the 12-month internally    

reported result.                                                                                    

<2>Forecast outturn.                                                                                

Indicative figures for BR's plans for future investment (excluding investment in BREL, which is being sold, and in the proposed high speed link to the Channel tunnel) are :

          |£ million          


1989-90   |740                

1990-91   |820                

1991-92   |880                

1992-93   |820                

In order to show the most consistent picture the figures in the table include some elements of "corporate" as well as "railway" investment. BR's standard definitions of these have changed over the years. The figures have been adjusted to current values by the most recent indices and include the latest available information. They show that there was a high level of investment during the modernisation programme of the late 1950s and early 1960s. BR's route mileage now is 45 per cent. less than it was in the peak investment year of 1959, but passenger mileage is currently at broadly the same levels as in 1959.

Commissioners of Irish Lights

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the total income and expenditure of the

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Commissioners of Irish Lights for each year from 1985 ; how much of this sum in each year is spent on navigational aids in the Republic of Ireland ; and how much of the income originates in the Republic.

Mr. Portillo : The annual expenditure of the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL) is as follows :

             |IR £ million             


1985-86      |13.4                     

1986-87      |13.7                     

1987-88      |13.5                     

1988-89      |<1>16.4                  

<1> Estimated.                         

The expenditure (which in 1988-89 included the purchase of a second-hand ship) is financed by advances from the General Lighthouse Fund (GLF).

Under a financial agreement made with the Irish Government in 1985, 70 per cent. of CIL's total expenditure is deemed to be incurred in the Republic. The principal sources of income in the Republic are light dues and a contribution made by the Irish Government under the 1985 agreement. The income from these sources credited to the GLF is as follows :


IR £ million                                                                                        

                         |Light dues earned in the|Financial contribution                           

                         |Republic                |for year<1>                                      


1985-86                  |1.49                    |1.29                                             

1986-87                  |1.90                    |1.32                                             

1987-88                  |2.20                    |1.40                                             

1988-89<2>               |2.60                    |1.60                                             

<1> Paid in following year.                                                                         

<2> Estimated.                                                                                      

In addition, CIL has miscellaneous rental and other income amounting to IR £171,000, IR £170,000, IR £192,000 and IR £193,000 (estimated) in the four years listed above. This income is not broken down on a geographical basis.

Uxbridge (Property Sale)

Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he received from the district valuer, Harrow, on 28 February and 15 March concerning the external appearance and state of the gardens of the property known as Four Winds, Park road, Uxbridge ; what consideration he is giving to the sale of this property in its existing condition ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The Department acquired "Four Winds" in 1984 following the serving of a blight notice.

Difficulties with the last tenant led to the property being unoccupied from December 1988.

The district valuer wrote to the Department on 27 February and enclosed with his letter an exchange of correspondence he had had with the owner of a neighbouring property about lack of maintenance to "Four Winds" and its garden. The district valuer stated that in order to ensure that the property and gardens were maintained and kept tidy it was necessary to have the property occupied. The district valuer reaffirmed his advice that the Department should not dispose of this property until completion of the road works.

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He has now been instructed to find a tenant.

Radioactive Material

Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether radioactive material from Hinkley Point is transported via Combwich wharf ; and what plans there are to do so in the future.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : No radioactive material is transported via Combwich wharf, neither are there any plans to do so.

Oil Discharges

Dr. Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what investigations have been conducted by his Department into recent alleged discharges of oil from the ferry Pride of Walmer.

Mr. Portillo : All papers and photographs received by the Department have been passed to the litigation division of the Treasury Solicitor's Department. An inquiry officer of that Department is investigating the alleged incident and in due course will present his findings to the Treasury Solicitor, who will determine whether the evidence is sufficient to justify a prosecution.

Microlight Aircraft

Mr. Colin Shepherd : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has any proposals to change the law concerning the operation of the legislation and regulations currently in force concerning the safety, operation and construction both in respect of those flying microlight aircraft and those on the ground potentially affected by flying operations.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Article 96 of the Air Navigation Order 1985 was recently amended to include a definition of microlight aeroplane. I understand from the Civil Aviation Authority that there are no other changes proposed at the moment specifically affecting microlight aeroplanes.


Overseas Sales

Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the level of sales overseas by the British defence industry.

Mr. Sainsbury : The level of British defence exports remains impressively high, thanks to the efforts of British industry assisted by the Defence Export Services Organisation. Overall figures for United Kingdom defence sales are given annually in the Supplement on the Defence Estimates.


Civil Justice Review

Mr. Favell : To ask the Attorney-General, what are the Government's plans for the implementation of the civil justice review.

The Attorney-General : The Government have considered the report of the review body on civil justice, and

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wish to record their gratitude to members of the advisory committee for their contribution to the work of the review over more than three years. In response to the report, the Government have decided to undertake a programme of improvements in the administration of civil justice in England and Wales. This is part of a general overhaul of the legal system, including reforms of child care law. The overall objective of these changes is to improve the service provided by lawyers and the courts to litigants in civil and family cases. The programme for civil justice will be phased over a period of up to five years, to take account of the need for primary and secondary legislation and further policy development, and of the capacity of the legal system to adapt to change in an effective and orderly way. Jurisdiction and allocation of cases

A more appropriate distribution of business between the High Court and the county courts was identified by the civil justice review as the key to reducing delay and cost. The Government therefore intend, by means of primary legislation, to reserve the High Court for public law and other specialist cases, and for general cases of unusual importance, substance or complexity.

A new system will be introduced to ensure that cases are handled and tried at the appropriate level. The upper financial limit of county court jurisdiction will be removed. Entry to the High Court and eligibility for High Court trial will be regulated. The criteria for allocation of cases will include financial limits applied to particular classes of business. These powers will be exercised to effect a major shift of lower level personal injury cases from the High Court to the county courts. Similar provision will be made in due course for debt cases. Housing possession cases currently dealt with in the High Court will be moved to the county court at a later stage, following discussion with interested parties.

Increases in both the trial jurisdiction of registrars and the upper financial limit of the automatic small claims jurisdiction will complete the new pattern of case distribution, and will help to offset the additional workload for circuit judges resulting from the shift of cases out of the High Court. Development of continuous trial facilities at suitable centres will also help the county courts to absorb an increased volume of cases.

Related procedural changes

The new system of case allocation will be accompanied by a number of changes designed to eliminate unnecessary differences between High Court and county court procedure. Subject to certain exceptions, the same remedies will be available in both courts. An appropriate costs regime will be introduced for common cases and in the longer term, a common core of procedural rules will be developed to cover general High Court and county court business.

Improvements in the handling of cases

A number of procedural changes will be introduced as a means of speeding up and improving the handling of full trial cases in both the High Court and the county courts. The Government intend to give the courts a more active role in the management of case progress, in order to reduce delay before trial. A full system of court control will take some years to achieve, and in the meantime other steps are being taken to reduce pre-trial delay, especially in personal injury cases. The Government consider that the normal permitted period between issue and service of process should be reduced from 12 to four months, and that the

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court should have power of its own motion to order a split trial, in which the issue of liability is tried in advance of the issue of damages. The object of this is to reduce delay, which may be caused by, for example, waiting for adequate diagnosis of a plaintiff's medical condition.

Other bodies have a role in the reduction of pre-trial delay. One of the principal objectives of the Legal Aid Board is to improve the quality of service provided to users of the legal aid system, and this will include reducing the present level of delay in the handling of applications for civil legal aid. The Home Office will pursue with the police the proposal for early release of accident reports pertaining to civil proceedings. Similarly, revised guidelines will be issued by the Department of Health to health authorities, encouraging early release of medical reports.

New arrangements to encourage openness between parties, including early exchange of witness statements, are expected to encourage settlement in appropriate cases and reduce the length of hearings in cases which go to trial. There will also be new arrangements for the conduct of civil trials, to reduce the need for the lengthy taking of oral evidence.

Debt enforcement and issue of summonses

Arrangements for handling debt enforcement in the county courts will be rationalised so that in the majority of straightforward cases, judgment debts will be payable direct to the creditor. At the same time, a central, computerised summons production centre will be set up to deal more efficiently with the bulk issue of summonses by large creditors.

The division of responsibility for enforcement of judgment debts between county court bailiffs and High Court sheriffs will remain as at present, with the bailiffs' responsibility in county court cases defined by an upper financial limit of £5,000. All High Court judgments, of whatever value, will continue to go to the sheriffs. Various aspects of the system for managing bailiffs are currently being reviewed. Proposals for reform of the sheriff system are under consideration.

Access to justice

The increase in the small claims jurisdiction will be accompanied by procedural improvements, with a view to protecting unrepresented litigants and to encouraging individuals to participate more fully in the handling of small county court cases generally. These improvements include simplified court forms and printed information, and more guidance to unrepresented litigants from court staff. The Government is planning a number of changes to the handling of housing cases in the counyy courts, including reform of existing possession procedures so as to provide the court with fuller evidence on the basis of the claim and the circumstances of the defendant. Simplified procedures will be introduced to enable landlords to recover rent arrears quickly and cheaply, without recourse to the full possession procedure ; and to provide easier access to the court system for tenants and others involved in disputes about matters such as repairs. The precise scope and form of these procedures will be determined after further consultation with court users and others with an interest in housing matters.

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Administration order procedures will be reviewed with a view to ensuring that they are used more effectively as a means of dealing with multiple debts.

Closer links between courts and advice agencies will be encouraged, and the Legal Aid Board will be asked to consider, in the context of its other responsibilities, whether agencies whose staff maintain a regular presence at courts, and which provide representation and other services to litigants, should be eligible for funding by the board in respect of such services. Wider availability of lay representation in smaller cases is among the matters put forward for consultation in the Government's recent Green Paper on the legal profession. The precise nature and scope of the service offered by the county courts to litigants in smaller cases will be reviewed when the results of this consultation process are known.

Judicial studies

The Government recognise the importance of enabling the judiciary to keep fully up to date with the new arrangements, particularly in relation to the proposed changes in procedure. The Judicial Studies Board will be invited to develop detailed plans to deal with this. Other matters

There are a small number of outstanding matters to which further consideration is being given. The usefulness of the hearsay rule and the current machinery for rendering hearsay evidence admissible in civil proceedings will be examined in due course. The case for relaxing the current prohibition on contingency fees has already been opened for re- examination in a recently issued Green Paper. Finally, the Government intend to give effect to the recommendation for a judicial title for registrars.

Law Changes

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Attorney-General how many matters formerly covered by the civil law now come under the auspices of the criminal law and vice versa ; which are the principal areas in which change has occurred ; and if he will make a statement.

The Attorney-General : I will write to my hon. Friend.


Gibraltar (Terrorists)

Q12. Dr. Godman : To ask the Prime Minister if she will place in the Library copies of her correspondence with the Spanish authorities following the deaths of the three suspected IRA terrorists in Gibraltar.

Mr. Wakeham : I have been asked to reply.

My right hon Friend the Prime Minister has not corresponded with the Spanish authorities over the deaths of the IRA terrorists in Gibraltar.

Environmental Conference

Q22. Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister what response she sent to the invitation from the Dutch Government to participate in the environmental conference at The Hague during the week beginning 6 March.

Mr. Wakeham : I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister told the Prime Minister of the Netherlands that Her Majesty's

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Government would not be represented at the meeting in The Hague. As my right hon. Friend told the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) on 23 February, we had a number of reservations about the proposed declaration.

Road Building (London)

Q24. Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Prime Minister when Her Majesty's Government expect to make a statement on the future of road building in London.

Mr. Wakeham : I have been asked to reply.

We are currently conducting the regular biennial review of the national trunk road programme, including the programme in London. We hope to make an announcement later.

Finchley Central Station.

Q34. Mr. Spearing : To ask the Prime Minister when she next expects to make an official visit to Finchley central station.

Mr. Wakeham : I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to do so.

Economic Performance

Q37. Mr. Fishburn : To ask the Prime Minister what

representations she has received regarding the performance of the economy.

Mr. Wakeham : I have been asked to reply.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply that I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury (Mr. Goodlad).


Q139. Mr. John Browne : To ask the Prime Minister what representations she has received regarding the tax changes in the Budget.

Q206. Sir Anthony Grant : To ask the Prime Minister what representations she has received regarding the tax changes in the Budget.

Q210. Mr. Cash : To ask the Prime Minister what representations she has received regarding the tax changes in the Budget.

Mr. Wakeham : I have been asked to reply.

The tax changes in the Budget have been widely welcomed.


Q171. Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Prime Minister what proposals she will submit to the European Council meeting in Madrid about fraud ; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Wakeham : I have been asked to reply.

I refer my hon. Friend to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's answer to his question of 2 March 1989 at columns 295-96 . An important development since then has been the meeting of the Economic and Finance Council on 13 March at which the Commission promised new or revised proposals to combat fraud and mismanagement in a

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number of areas, notably agricultural export refunds and intervention storage. Some of these proposals are expected to be tabled before the June meeting of the Economic and Finance Council at which action against fraud will once again be discussed. The Government's approach to the Madrid European Council will reflect the terms of this discussion.

Margaret Marsh

Q188. Mr. Nicholas Baker : To ask the Prime Minister if she will pay an official visit to Margaret Marsh.

Mr. Wakeham : I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to do so.


Mr. McCrindle : To ask the Prime Minister if she will list the number of quangos abolished for each year since 1979 to the present date.

The Prime Minister : The numbers abolished are as follows :



1979-83 |608          

1983-84 |73           

1984-85 |75           

1985-86 |60           

1986-87 |81           

1987-88 |40           

Information relating to individual years 1979-83 is not available. Figures relate to 1 April each year. Information for 1988-89 will be published in December in "Public Bodies 1989".

Armed Forces (Medical and Dental Officers)

Mr. Leigh : To ask the Prime Minister if she will make a statement about the pay of medical and dental officers in the armed forces.

The Prime Minister : The armed forces pay review body has submitted to me a supplementary report on the pay of medical and dental officers in the Armed Forces which recommends increases of between 4.7 per cent. and 8.3 per cent. with effect from 1 April 1989. For the majority the recommended increase is 8 per cent. These awards are derived from those to civilian doctors and dentists which I announced in the House on 16 February 1989 and the Government have decided to accept them in full.

The report has been published as Cm 667 and copies are available in the Vote Office.

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