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Mr. Nicholls : In March 1989 the level of unemployment, seasonally adjusted, in the United Kingdom was 1,918,100 compared with 2,453,900 in March 1988--a fall of 535,800 or 21.8 per cent. on a consistent basis.
Mr. Cope : Thanks to the very strong growth in employment, unemployment rates have been falling since July 1986. By March 1989 there were 48 travel-to-work area with unemployment rates below 4 per cent. and 16 travel-to-work areas below 3 per cent.
As unemployment has fallen, some shortages of labour have appeared. Occupations most in demand are in higher level skills such as professional engineers, computer specialists and managers and in craft skills.
Mr. Ernie Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will provide a breakdown of the £55 million surplus of the construction industry training board ; what information he has as to what this sum will be spent on ; why the board has £74 million invested in financial institutions ; on what authority the board makes such investments ; and when this authority was last reviewed.
Mr. Nicholls : The latest available accounts are for the financial year ending 31 March 1988. Detailed information is included in the 1987-88 annual report, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.
Section 17(5) of the Industrial Training Act 1982 permits a board to invest any money in a manner approved by the Training Commission. The latest advice was given to all industry training boards in October 1986 when certain categories of investment were given general approval by the commission.
The board will need to draw substantially upon its accumulated fund in order to finance training commitments already entered into and its planned increase in training effort to meet skill shortages which prevail in the industry.
Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what technical queries he received from the European Commission regarding the European social fund applications for 1989 by Cornwall county council ; what steps were taken to answer those technical queries ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Cope : My Department was advised by the European Commission that Cornwall county council's 1989 European social fund applications, in common with over 150 other UK applications, were being rejected
Column 731because the Commission considered that the expenditure costs quoted were too high and not sufficiently justified for the type of training being given.
Officials from my Department made representations to the Commission on behalf of all the applicants so affected, but have not so far been successful in changing the Commission's decision.
Because of the difficulties that the rejection to these applications is causing Cornwall county council, my Department has written again to the European Commission with a request that the social fund applications be reviewed.
Mr. Nicholls [holding answer 12 April 1989] : This information is not available in the form requested. Organisations are contracted as training managers by their capability to provide and meet employment training standards, and not by their size. I am sending the hon. Member a list of all private sector firms acting as training managers as at 20 February 1989 and am also arranging for a copy to be placed in the Library.
Sir John Farr : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment in view of the steadily increasing use of visual displays units, when he expects to recommend standards to be introduced, especially with regard to the adoption of the ALARA principle of keeping radiation exposure as low as reasonably achievable.
Mr. Nicholls [holding answer 12 April 1989] : The introduction of such standards for VDUs is unnecessary as these machines do not pose a radiation risk. I hope that national and international standards on some ergonomic aspects of VDUs will be published within a year.
Mr. Maclennan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the current average waiting time at Glasgow passport office between the receipt of (a) an application for a passport and (b) an application for renewal of an existing passport and the issue of the new passport.
Mr. Renton : Straightforward non-urgent postal applications of all types are being processed at the Glasgow passport office in an average of 33 working days. Urgent applications are given priority and are processed in accordance with travellers' requirements.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, following the deaths of four horses and injury to others at Aintree racecourse on 8 April, he will consider instituting proceedings against the racecourse authorities under the provisions of the Protection of Animals Act 1911.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : No. The prosecution of offences is not the responsibility of my right hon. Friend. If the hon. Member believes he has evidence that an offence has been committed, he should communicate it to the chief officer of police concerned.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : No. For the time being, the prison service in England and Wales is recruiting only for posts in London and the south- east. All applicants are therefore invited to confirm that they are willing and able to work at any establishment in that area.
Mr. Hanley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the increased percentage stake in Satellite Information Services which has been recently announced for the Horserace Totalisator Board ; and on what terms it will be allocated.
Mr. John Patten : I understand that the board may increase its shareholding in Satellite Information Services from 5 to 6 per cent. and will be entitled to purchase these additional shares at the same price per share as that achieved for those shares in the company which are to be made available in a private placing.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : A governor may order an inmate in a prison service establishment to be put under restraint in a body belt where this is necessary to prevent the inmate from injuring himself or others, damaging property or creating a disturbance. The prison medical officer must be informed whenever a governor orders an inmate to be put under restraint.
Column 733On the one occasion in 1987 when a body belt was used at Lindholme prison, the inmate had attempted to commit suicide. His behaviour was aggressive and unpredictable and he was placed in a body belt for his own protection, with the full knowledge and agreement of the medical officer. The body belt was removed after 2 hours 20 minutes prior to his transfer to Leeds prison hospital for observation.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions body belts have been used on inmates of Lindholme prison since 1987 ; what category of prisoner was involved in each case ; and for how long the device was applied on each occasion.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Body belts were used to restrain prisoners at Lindholme prison on one occasion in 1987 and twice in 1988. The prisoners were all in category C and were kept in body belts for an average of 1 hour 45 minutes.
Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many men have been convicted at South West London magistrates court for kerb-crawling activities in the Bedford Hill area of Wandsworth during the last three years ;
(2) how many people have been convicted at South West London magistrates court in each of the last three years for living off the immoral earnings of prostitutes ;
(3) how many convictions there have been at South West London magistrates court of women convicted of soliciting for prostitution in the Bedford hill district of Wandsworth during the last three years.
Mr. John Patten : The information held centrally, which may be incomplete, is given in the table. It is not possible to identify separately those offences which occurred in the Bedford hill area of Wandsworth. Information for 1985 and 1986 was provided in a reply given to a question from the hon. Member on 12 November 1987 at column 206.
|c|Persons found guilty of offences relating to prostitution at South|c| |c|Western magistrates court|c| Offence |1987 --------------------------------------------------- Kerb-crawling |- Soliciting for prostitution |399 Living on earnings of prostitution |-
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will provide a list, broken down by port of entry, of the number of occasions since the latest immigration guidelines were introduced that hon. Members have made representations to immigration officials to change their decision to refuse entry and the number of times the immigration officials have agreed to do so.
Mr. Renton : The information is not available in the form requested. The available information about requests to immigration officers to defer removal following refusal of leave to enter was contained in my reply to the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) on 15 March at column 231.
Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people in the area including Nottingham (a) were imprisoned, (b) had attachments to earnings, and (c) had distraint warrants issued for non- payments of rates in each of the years from 1979.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Estimates of numbers of rate defaulters committed to custody by courts in Nottinghamshire are given in the table below ; provision of information for other years would involve disproportionate cost. Information on attachment of earnings orders and distraint warrants is not recorded centrally.
|c|Committals to custody for non-payment of rates by courts in|c| |c|Nottinghamshire|c| |Estimated number --------------------------------------------------- 1979 |20 1983 |20 1987 |10 1988 |5
Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the current number of applications at his Department from Tamils from Sri Lanka seeking to be granted refugee status in the United Kingdom ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Renton : No distinction is made in statistical records between Tamils and other Sri Lankans. For the latest available information, I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him on 11 January 1989 at column 683.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the average recommended minimum length of sentence to be served, in cases of attempted murder in each year since 1979.
Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he is having with election returning officers in the United Kingdom to ensure that access is possible for disabled people at all polling stations in their areas.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : None at this time. Section 18 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, as amended by the Representation of the People Act 1985, places a particular obligation on district and London borough councils to designate as polling places, so far as is reasonable and practicable, only places which are accessible to disabled voters. This requirement is supplemented by Home Office guidance to returning officers, which states that the long-term objective should be to have polling stations which are all capable of easy access by disabled people, and that the Treasury will provide grants towards the cost of portable ramps so that wheelchairs can enter polling stations easily.
Mr. Archer : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, pursuant to the answer of 16 February, Official Report, columns 327-38, he will place in the Library anonymised summaries of the convictions for officers in connection with the employment of children in (a) non- industrial, (b) industrial and (c) agricultural undertakings for the most recent year for which figures are available ; and if he will make it his policy to make such summaries available in future years.
Mr. John Patten [holding answer 10 April 1989] : The available information relates to prosecutions in 1987 under sections 18, 19, 20 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 notified to the Home Office. There were eight such prosecutions and eight convictions, all leading to fines and no other disposals. Equivalent figures for 1988 will become available later in the year and can be made available on request.
Column 736Information on these costs is either not held centrally or not separately identifiable. The information requested, therefore, could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Meale : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on how many occasions there have been major currency realignments within the exchange rate mechanism of the European monetary system ; and if he will give the relevant dates and adjustments.
Mr. Lilley : There have been 11 realignments of the currencies in the exchange rate mechanism of the European monetary system since its inception in 1979. Details are set out in the Commission booklet, "The EMS : Ten Years of Progress in European Monetary Co-operation", a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Gardiner : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the latest estimated receipts in 1988-89 and 1989-90 from excise duties and value added tax on spirits, beer, wine, made-wine, cider, perry and low- duty alcohol products, respectively.
1988-89<1> 1989-90<2> |Excise duties |VAT |Total receipts|Excise duties |VAT |Total receipts |£ billion |£ billion |£ billion |£ billion |£ billion |£ billion ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Spirits |1.6 |0.6 |2.2 |1.7 |0.7 |2.3 Beer |2.1 |1.3 |3.4 |2.1 |1.4 |3.5 Wine |0.7 |0.5 |1.2 |0.8 |0.5 |1.3 Made wine |0.1 |<3>- |0.1 |0.1 |<3>- |0.1 Cider and perry |0.1 |0.1 |0.1 |0.1 |0.1 |0.1 |------- |------- |------- |------- |------- |------- Totals |4.5 |2.4 |7.0 |4.7 |2.6 |7.3 <1> Latest estimates. <2> Forecasts. <3> Below £50 million. Note: Separate figures are not available for low duty alcohol products. Individual items may not add up to totals due to rounding.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many United Kingdom citizens are (a) currently serving sentences and (b) awaiting sentencing in Libyan prisons.
Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he is having with the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics wih a view to a greater exchange of cultural co- operation between Great Britain and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Mr. Waldegrave : Anglo-Soviet cultural exchanges have developed considerably in recent years. During Mr. Gorbachev's recent visit we agreed to start negotiations on a new, more wide-ranging cultural agreement, which we hope to sign next year. The agreement will set out the basic principles of our co-operation and will in due course lead to the establishment of cultural centres in London and Moscow, with guaranteed free and unimpeded public access.
Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information his Department has as to what agreements exist for tourism between Britain and countries in eastern Europe ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 737countries in eastern Europe. The Vienna concluding document, which those countries have accepted, calls for improvement of the infrastructure of tourism, removal of restrictive measures that hinder its development, and the encouragement of individual travel. Her Majesty's Government attach importance to the fulfilment of these provisions.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will arrange for the British post in Bombay to issue a visit visa to Mrs. Sakina Najmuddin Badruddin so that she can join her family in paying respects to her father who died in the United Kingdom last December ;
(2) when Mr. Latifa Begum, who was born on 7 March 1955, and her four children, applied to the British post in New Delhi for entry clearance to enter the United Kingdom ; and when they will be interviewed ;
(3) why Mrs. Zaffar Iqbal Raja, ref. V 431489, was refused a visa by the British post inIslamabad to visit the United Kingdom ; what is Mr. Raja's occupation and family circumstances ; and if he will reconsider Mr. Raja's application.
Mr. Eggar : In accordance with the recent guidelines on the handling of representations by Members of Parliament in immigration cases, issued to Members on 14 December 1988, I have referred the question to the correspondence unit of migration and visa department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The hon. Member will receive a reply from the unit in due course.
Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish in the Official Report a list showing expenditure on programmes for old age as a proportion of gross domestic product at market prices, for European Community member states, for each year since 1983.
|1983|1984|1985 ------------------------------------------------ Belgium |7.8 |7.8 |- Denmark |10.2|10.2|10.1 Federal Republic of Germany |8.0 |7.8 |- Greece |- |- |- Spain |- |- |- France |9.1 |- |- Ireland |5.7 |5.6 |5.5 Italy |7.7 |7.7 |7.6 Luxembourg |6.7 |- |- Netherlands |8.8 |- |- Portugal |- |- |- United Kingdom |9.5 |9.6 |- Source: Eurostat. Note: Social protection expenditure for old age comprises state pension, occupational pensions, income related benefits and public expenditure on residential care..
Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish in percentage terms the number of applications to him under the hardship clause of the Social Security Act 1988 (a) submitted through each Department of Social Security local office and (b) submitted on a Department of Social Security regional basis, which are successful in their intent ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The family credit television campaign started yesterday and will run throughout Great Britain for eight weeks until 7 June. This phase of the campaign will cost 2.3 million. In addition, an outdoor campaign on posters and bus sides will commence throughout Great Britain on 1 May for two months until the end of June. The total cost of this aspect of the campaign will be £1.3 million. A further £1 million has been allocated for other promotional activities during the remainder of this financial year. These will include providing adequate supplies of leaflets and posters in sub-post offices, community and health centres and other places used frequently by mothers with children.
The campaign emphasises working families' eligibility for family credit, including those with take-home pay levels as high as £175 per week in some cases. It sets out to dispel misconceptions about ineligibility for family credit because of home ownership, self-employment and lone parent status, and points out that it is a weekly tax-free payment and not a loan.
We have already arranged for a copy of the advertising research on which the campaign is based to be placed in the Library.
Mr. McCrindle : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security for what period 16 and 17-year-olds estranged from their parents will be able to claim income support ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Regulations have yet to be made, but we intend that 16 and 17-year-olds who are estranged from their parents will be eligible to receive income support during the same period as the child benefit extension period--that is, until the end of the calendar year for
Column 739summer school leavers and for 12 weeks in the case of those leaving at Christmas or Easter. During that time the guarantee of an offer of a YTS place will be met. Once eligibility for income support on this basis runs out, the "severe hardship" provision will be available where necessary. Those not required to be available for work or training will continue to be eligible for income support at all times.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : From April 1990, help for people on low income in paying the community charge will be provided through a community charge benefit scheme. This will be separate from the housing benefit scheme, though the rules of the two schemes will be aligned as closely as is possible. The local authority associations and the Social Security Advisory Committee are now being consulted on draft Community Charge Benefits (General) Regulations.
Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will place in the Library a copy of the memorandum from his Department to which reference is made in the Evening Times article of 10 April, a copy of which has been sent to him.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : No. The document referred to was only interim advice. Full instructions to local offices will be issued in the near future and I will arrange for a copy of these to be placed in the Library.
Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether under S.I. No. 507 (S.59) any deduction for poll tax payments from persons on income support can be made by his Department without its first having received a specific request, naming an individual or couple, from the levying authority.
Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his policy on imposing deductions of poll tax payments from persons on income support before appeals have been dealt with by a tribunal.
Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether the spokeswoman referred to in the article printed in the Evening Times, a copy of which has been sent to him, had his authority to state that a person on income support could be left with 10p of an income due to deductions arising from non-payment of the poll tax ; and if he will provide an example of how this can happen.
Column 740provision in paragraph 2 of schedule 9 to the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1987 (SI 1987 No. 1968) dealing with other deductions from income support for debts to third parties. Its purpose is to avoid extinguishment of entitlement. For example, the deduction for a single person will be £1.75p a week. If the person's income support is less than £1.85p per week because of other income, the deduction for community charge arrears could not be made.
Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the maximum weekly deduction for non-payment of the poll tax from (a) a single person aged 18 years, (b) a single person aged 25 years, and (c) a married couple, all receiving full income support and without savings, and assuming they have no other deductions for housing and fuel.