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Written Answers to Questions

Friday 3 November 1989


Staff Statistics

Dr. Hampson : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many (a) civil servants with higher education responsibilities, and (b) Her Majesty's inspectors (higher education), UGC/UFC, and NAB/PCFC, have been employed in 1987-88 and 1988-89 ; and how many extra it is proposed to recruit in 1989-90.

Mrs. Rumbold : The information requested is as follows :



Civil Servants with                                                        

  responsibility for policy on                                             

  higher education             |57        |54        |51                   

HMI (Higher Education)<2>      |150       |150       |150                  

UGC                            |70        |68        |-                    

UFC                            |-         |-         |80                   

NAB                            |30        |33        |-                    

PCFC                           |-         |-         |63                   


<1> Staff in post on 1 October.                                            

<2> The majority of HMI with responsibilities in higher education also     

have further education responsibilities. It is not possible to             

disaggregate the time spent on higher education.                           

Most of the additional staff budgeted for in 1989-90 have already been recruited and are included in the third column. Any further net additions should not be significant.


Ministerial Duties (Mileage)

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the average mileage per day travelled by the Minister for Overseas Development in performing her official duties ; and what was the figure for her predecessor.

Mrs. Chalker : Between mid-1988 and mid-1989 my predecessor, the right hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Patten) travelled over 100,000 miles, an average of nearly 300 miles per day, in the course of his official duties. I expect my travel to follow a similar pattern.


Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Overseas Development Administration maintains a list of approved consultants.

Mrs. Chalker : The ODA maintains a register of consultants but inclusion on this register does not imply that ODA approves of the firm or individual concerned, nor that they will necessarily be invited to tender for projects.

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Overseas Civil Service (Pensions)

Mr. Stanbrook : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what arrangements have been made to include Hong Kong and other colonies in the arrangements for pensioners of Her Majesty's overseas Civil Service to include pre-appointment war service in the calculation of their pensions.

Mrs. Chalker : Any overseas pensioner from one of our dependencies who also receives a pension paid under the terms of the Overseas Pensions Act 1973, will be eligible for consideration under the terms of the Colonial Service Officers' Pensions Addition for War Service (United Kingdom) Scheme 1989.

We have written to Hong Kong and other dependencies whose expatriate pensions do not come within the scope of the Act, to ask if they will introduce arrangements which would parallel our scheme. Bermuda and the Cayman Islands have advised us that they have no pensioners to whom the terms would apply ; we still await replies from the others, including Hong Kong whose Government have previously expressed a desire to intoduce credit for war service.


Public Safety

Mr. Nigel Griffiths To ask the Prime Minister what steps are taken to encourage scientific civil servants working on areas related to public safety to draw public attention to threats to public safety.

The Prime Minister : This will depend on the circumstances in each case. In bringing matters to the attention of the public all civil servants are required to act in accordance with the principles concerning the provision of information set out in chapter 6 of the "Personnel Management Handbook", copies of which are available in the House Libraries.


Disabled People

Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much of the money currently spent on residential care in Wales is specifically allocated to services for disabled people.

Mr. Grist : The only relevant figures available are those for expenditure by local authorities on residential homes for different categories of resident as shown in the following table.

Residential homes for                          |Net current expenditure                        




The elderly                                    |29,623,980                                     

The younger physically disabled blind and deaf |1,869,453                                      

Persons with a mental illness-Staffed homes    |1,168,760                                      

Persons with a mental illness-Unstaffed homes  |11,287                                         

Persons with a mental handicap-Staffed homes   |5,947,987                                      

Persons with a mental handicap-Unstaffed homes |43,406                                         

Residential accommodation for mixed client                                                     

  groups                                       |59,883                                         




Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales on how many occasions during 1988 and 1989 either he, or his officials, have met representatives of the Farmers Union of Wales.

Mr. Peter Walker : I have met representatives of the Farmers Union of Wales on seven occasions and my officials have on 25 occasions. In addition there are frequent but irregular meetings with officials at the four divisional offices dealing with matters involving either individual farmers or of a more general, but essentially local, interest. Central records are not kept of these local meetings.

Welsh Language

Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps are being taken to monitor the linguistic rights of elderly Welsh-speaking people within private sector nursing and old people's homes.

Mr. Grist : It is for the individual elderly person to select a home which suits his/her particular language requirements. In exercising their responsibilities, several registration authorities have issued guidance to proprietors on how to cater for the Welsh-language needs of residents.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Haselhurst : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the subjects on which he is not prepared to answer parliamentary questions.

Mr. Peter Walker : It is not possible to provide a definite and exhaustive list of questions which I might exceptionally decline to answer on grounds other than cost and commercial confidence. Each question will continue to be considered on its merits.

Welsh Water plc

Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales whether it was with his authority that Welsh Water plc joined with Saur UK Ltd. to form a joint subsidiary company to undertake a variety of commercial activities.

Mr. Grist : We welcome Welsh Water's proposals to diversify its activities including its joint venture with SAUR about which we have been kept fully informed.

Rural Housing

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list (a) those county, district and community councils which have submitted comments on

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the letter dated 30 June entitled, land for low cost housing in rural areas in Wales draft planning guidance and (b) the authorities which were sent a copy of this letter.

Mr. Grist : The information is shown as follows :

(a) Clwyd County Council

Colwyn Borough Council

Delyn Borough Council

Glyndwr District Council

Rhuddlan Borough Council

Wrexham Maelor Borough Council

Dyfed County Council

Carmarthen District Council

Ceredigion District Council

Dinefwr Borough Council

Preseli Pembrokeshire District Council

South Pembrokeshire District Council

Gwent County Council

Monmouth Borough Council

Gwynedd County Council

Aberconwy Borough Council

Arfon Borough Council

Dwyfor District Council

Ynys Mo n--Isle of Anglesey Borough Council

Ogwr Borough Council

Powys County Council

Brecknock Borough Council

Montgomeryshire District Council

South Glamorgan County Council

Cardiff City Council

Vale of Glamorgan Borough Council

West Glamorgan County Council

Neath Borough Council

Port Talbot Borough Council

The Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire Coast and Snowdonia National Park Committees also commented on the draft guidance.

No Community Council has submitted comments.

(b) All District and County Councils in Wales together with the three Welsh National Park Committees. The Welsh Counties Committee, the Council of Welsh Districts and the Welsh Association of Town and Community Councils were also consulted on the draft guidance.

Mr. W. D. Harries

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when his Department will pay the agricultural capital grant of £904.55 under the agriculture and horticultural development scheme in respect of sheep fencing for holding number 55/443/16 Mr. W. D. Harries, Crafty farm, Hayscastle cross, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, which was submitted in May.

Mr. Peter Walker : Mr. W. D. Harries has already been informed that his claim has been approved for payment. He should receive his payment order by mid-November.


EC Charter of Rights

Mr. Hannam : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to implement paragraph 29 of the European Community charter of fundamental social rights.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : The charter has not been agreed by member states. Discussion of its implementation is therefore premature at this stage.

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Computer Centre (Livingston)

Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what guarantees his Department has gained from the company EDS, awarded the contract to run the computer centre at Livingston, that a continuous service will be maintained.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : Contractual arrangements are in place to ensure effective performance by EDS. Failure to meet the agreed levels of service will result in financial penalties.

Chief Adjudication Officer Guidance

Mrs. Beckett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he will place a copy of any guidance issued by the chief adjudication officer as a result of Commissioner's decision R(SB)6/89 in the Library.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : The guidance issued by the chief adjudication officer as a result of Commissioner's decision R(SB)6/89 is contained in AOG Memo Vol. 3/22 which has been placed in the Library.

Personal Pensions

Mrs. Beckett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, whether he will publish in the Official Report a table showing, for men and women aged 16, 20, 30 and 40 years in April 1988, the ages at which it would pay the person concerned to cease contributing to a personal pension or other money purchase scheme, assuming rates of return of 0.5 per cent. and 2.5 per cent. above the annual increase in average earnings.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : It is not possible to give such a table because of the wide range of other factors, in addition to the rate of return, which would affect the amount of the personal pension.

Ms. Marsha Basaj

Mr. McLeish : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will investigate the circumstances surrounding the visit to Ms. Marsha Basaj by two regionally based fraud investigators responsible to the Central Office for Scotland CN (Fraud) branch.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : I have called for a report on this case and will write to the hon. Member in due course.

Social Fund

Mr. Patchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how much the Government have spent on social fund loans and community grants ; how many people have been refused help by the social fund from its inception to date ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Scott : Information relating to 1988-89 is contained in the Secretary of State's annual report to Parliament.

Information for the current year is available from the national summary statistics which are placed in the Library monthly. The latest month for which information is available is September 1989.

Mr. Patchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what action he is proposing to take about the

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administration of the social fund following the report by the Social Fund Commission for 1988-89 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Scott : The Social Fund Commissioner's first annual report, which was published in July, discharged her responsibility to report annually on the standard of reviews by social fund inspectors. I was pleased to note that 90 per cent. of the decisions monitored "met fully or exceeded the required standard" and that of the remainder very few "were found to be fundamentally flawed". I agree fully with the Commissioner's conclusion that the results of her monitoring will encourage public confidence in the review system.

The Commissioner also made a number of recommendations to the Department. These are all issues on which the Department's views have been made known to the Commissioner, or on which the Department has already taken action. I understand that the Commissioner's next annual report will refer to this year's recommendations and the Department's response to them.


British Rail (Expenditure)

Mr. Snape : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the following totals at constant prices : (a) capital expenditure out of the public service obligation grant to British Rail and (b) other capital expenditure by British Rail authorised by his Department for each year since 1979.

Mr. Portillo : The public service obligation grant meets the difference between costs and revenues for grant-supported services. Eligible costs include depreciation, a supplement to fund capital renewals, and interest. Grant therefore provides support for capital investment, but grant is not allocated to particular categories of expenditure.

Figures for total BR investment are given in the table :

£ million 1989-90 prices                                    

                    |Total BR investment                    


1979                |518                                    

1980                |529                                    

1981                |433                                    

1982                |352                                    

1983                |347                                    

1984                |368                                    

1985-86             |491                                    

1986-87             |475                                    

1987-88             |594                                    

1988-89             |600                                    

Note:-1984-85 was a 15 month financial period. The 1984     

figure is the 12 month internally reported result. Figures  

exclude the laying of continuous welded track which BR no   

longer classify as investment.                              


Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information his Department has on the length of time taken to respond to letters from hon. Members.

Mr. Atkins : Ministerial colleagues and I aim to deal with all correspondence in three weeks.

Manually kept records show that of approximately 15,000 letters received from hon. Members since January

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1989, 378 are currently outstanding. These have raised complex questions or problems which inevitably take longer to research.

Road Improvement Contracts

Mr. Amos : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, further to the answer to the hon. Member for Hexham on 10 January, Official Report, column 617, if he will list (a) those trunk road improvement contracts that have been awarded since the start of the financial year 1989-90. together with the name of the successful tenderer and the value of the contract, (b) those contracts on which tenders have been invited but contracts have not yet been awarded and (c) those contracts on which tenders have not yet been invited but are expected to be let by the end of the financial year 1989- 90.

Mr. Atkins : The following contracts have been awarded since 1 April 1989 :

Scheme and Successful                         |Contract Price                             


                                              |£ million                                  


M1   J34 Meadowhall Development<1>-                                                       

  Birse Construction                          |1.2                                        


M3   Compton-Bassett Widening-                                                            

  John Mowlem                                 |41.5                                       


M20  Maidstone-Ashford (Contract 2)-                                                      

  Wimpey Construction                         |28.7                                       


M40  Waterstock-Wendlebury Section-                                                       

  Fairclough/Alfred McAlpine                  |63.9                                       


A23  Waddon Marsh Bridge-Balfour Beatty       |2.7                                        


A27  Brighton Bypass (Dyke Road/Patcham)-                                                 

Alfred McAlpine                               |16.7                                       


A41  Chester Improvement-Fairclough           |17.5                                       


A41  Bicester Bypass State 1-John Mowlem      |4.7                                        


A42  Castle Donnington North (Contract 1)-                                                

A F Budge (Construction)                      |24.7                                       


A65  Addingham Bypass-Cumbrian Industrials    |3.1                                        


A69  Brampton Bypass-Cumbrian Industrials     |4.9                                        


A127 Rayleigh Weir GSJ-Christiani and Nielsen |11.8                                       


A282 Dartford Third Crossing Approach Roads-                                              

  Balfour Beatty                              |27.7                                       


A303 Ilchester to South Petherton-                                                        

  Wimpey Construction                         |12.8                                       


A406 Chingford Road to Hale Road-                                                         

  Cementation Construction                    |60.3                                       


A604 M1-A1 Link:                                                                          

  Contract 6 (Kettering-Thrapston)-                                                       

  A. F. Budge (Construction)                  |25.7                                       

Contract 7 (Thrapston-Brampton phase 1)-                                                  

  Tarmac Construction                         |14.2                                       

<1>Grant aided scheme.                                                                    

Tenders have been invited for the following schemes and the contracts should be awarded before the end of the financial year :

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A6 Quorn and Mountsorrel Bypass

A16 Boston Algakirk Diversion

A16 Louth Bypass

A23 Warninglid to Brighton (Sayers Common to Muddlewood) A43 Castle Donzington North (Contract 2)

A47 Castor and Ailsworth Bypass

A47 Eye Bypass

A418 Leighton Linslade Bypass

A523 Macclesfield Inner Relief Road

A604 M1-A1 Link :

Contract 1 (Catthorpe Interchange)

Contract 4 (Rothwell to Kettering)

Contract 5 (Kettering Southern Bypass)

A650 Drighlington Bypass

A1079 Market Weighton Bypass

Grant aided scheme

Subject to completion of statutory procedures further tenders for other schemes may be invited before the end of the financial year.

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