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Mr. Mellor : Information is not available in the form requested. About three quarters of cases are decided on the basis of local review committee recommendations alone. There are now no general delays in these cases, compared with the position in the summer of this year when one quarter of them were delayed by an average of about one month beyond PED. The delay in parole board cases, which exceeded three months in the summer, has now been reduced to about two-and-a-half months beyond PED. There is no evidence of any significant regional variation in the delays.

Further and more rapid improvements should follow the administrative changes my right hon. and learned Friend announced in reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) on 30 November at column 396. The aim is to eliminate completely the present delays by March next year.

Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the longest period beyond parole eligibility date that a prisoner is currently waiting.

Mr. Mellor : Information in this form is not readily available from central records.

West Midlands Police

Mr. Wall : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he last met the chief constable of the West Midlands ; and what was discussed.

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he last met the chief constable of the West Midlands ; and what was discussed.

Ms. Short : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he last discussed the pub bombings case with the chief constable of the West Midlands.

Mr. Waddington : I have had no meetings with the chief constable of the West Midlands since I took office as Home Secretary.

Animal Experiments

Mr. Norris : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) on how many occasions in 1989 a member of the Home Office inspectorate has visited the dog toxicology unit at Huntingdon research centre ; or how many occasions the conditions in which animals were housed and cared for were found to be satisfactory and in line with the Home Office code of practice for the housing and care of animals used in scientific procedures ;

(2) on how many occasions in 1989 a member of the Home Office inspectorate has visited Huntingdon research centre ;

(3) on how many occasions in 1989 a member of the Home Office inspectorate has visited the rodent toxicology unit at Huntingdon research centre ; and on how many occasions the conditions in which the animals were housed and cared for were found to be satisfactory and in line with the Home Office code of practice for the housing and care of animals used in scientific procedures.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : It is not our practice to disclose this information in relation to individual establishments. For 1988, the last year for which figures are available, inspectors paid 7,354, mainly unannounced, visits to departments within the 375 places designated under the


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Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The Home Office code of practice for the housing and care of animals used in scientific procedures (1989 ; HC 107) was published in February this year. Establishments which were not already complying with it in every detail are expected to do so within a realistic time scale.

Young Recidivists

Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in how many cases young recidivists have re-offended in the years 1986-87 to 1988-89.

Mr. John Patten : Statistics are not readily available in the form requested. Information on the sentencing of young offenders reconvicted within two years of discharge from prison service establishments in England and Wales is published annually in Prison Statistics (tables 9.7 and 9.10 of the latest volume, for 1988, Cm. 825), copies of which are available in the Library. Of an estimated 28,800 young persons discharged from prison service establishments in 1985, 18,300 were reconvicted within two years of discharge, of whom 10,600 were recommitted to custody.

Chief Constables (Talks)

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what issues were discussed at his Department's last meeting with representatives of chief constables.

Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 4 December 1989] : My right hon. and learned Friend last met representatives of the Association of Chief Police Officers on 10 November. They discussed a number of matters including police appointments and the organisation of the police service.

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department who instructed the immigration and nationality department to resolve applications for political asylum from those believed to be members of, or to have links with, the Pakistan People's party, without interview ; when the instruction was issued ; how many applicants, to date, have had their applications resolved without interview ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 28 November 1989] : In April my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr. Hurd) approved special case-working arrangements for resolving a backlog of about 900 asylum applications from Pakistani nationals. The great majority of the asylum claims were based on links with the Pakistan People's party. Following the death of President Zia in August 1988 the democratic process was reinstated in Pakistan ; the Pakistan People's party participated freely in party politics at national and provincial level, and, following the elections in November 1988, became the governing party nationally. In all the circumstances it was decided that applications based solely on Pakistan People's party connections could be refused without interview. Applicants raising other matters continue to be dealt with in the normal way and would be interviewed before a refusal decision was taken. All those who are


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refused without interview have a right of appeal, exercisable in this country, against refusal of leave or deportation.

Our statistical records do not distinguish between refusals with and without interview. It is known, however, that some 483 asylum applications from Pakistani nationals have been refused so far in 1989.

Pornography

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy to ban all pornographic material dealing specifically with sexual violence towards women and children.

Mr. Mellor [holding answer 27 November 1989] : Among other measures, the Obscene Publications Act 1959, the Indecent Displays (Control) Act 1981, the Video Recordings Act 1984 and the duties of the broadcasting regulatory bodies (which will be re-affirmed in our Broadcasting Bill) provide controls over pornographic material in its various forms. We have made it plain that we should favour a stronger test of obscenity to replace that in the 1959 Act. We have no other proposals at present.

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will convene a meeting between representatives of groups objecting to the sale of pornography and retailers to discuss current retailing practice.

Mr. Mellor [holding answer 27 November 1989] : No. We have drawn the strength of feeling represented to us about the availability of certan publications to the attention of major newsagents, and it is open to those who object to the sale of what they regard as pornography to protest directly to the retailers.

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what studies his Department conducted, has commissioned or is aware of concerning the link between pornographic material and sexual violence towards women and children ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Mellor [holding answer 27 November 1989] : We have not conducted or commissioned specific studies into any possible link between pornography and sexual violence towards women and children, but we are aware of numerous studies on the impact of pornography. These have not, to our knowledge, shown definitely either that there is or that there is not such a link. We are planning a review of the available evidence.

TRANSPORT

Ports

109. Mr. Janman : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of progress which has been made in British ports since the abolition of the dock labour scheme towards increased competitiveness and the attraction of new business ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. McLoughlin : The former scheme ports have responded with impressive enthusiasm and energy to the new opportunities opened up by the possibility of


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eliminating overmanning and restrictive practices. Business inquiries are at a high level. The way is now open for new industrial developments in dock areas and for the larger of these ports to win back some of the deep-sea trade that is routed through ports on the continent.

Leaded Petrol

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information he has on the number of cars that have converted back to leaded fuel in the last 12 months.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : I have been asked to reply.

We have no statistics on the number of cars converted back to leaded petrol.

Heavy Goods Vehicles

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of heavy goods vehicle journeys were checked for excessive weights in each of the past six years ; and what percentage of (a) British and (b) foreign vehicles were found to be over the weight limits.

Mr. Atkins : It is estimated that in 1984-85 about 0.04 per cent. and 1987-88 about 0.05 per cent. of HGV journeys were checked for excessive weight. Figures for other years are not available. The percentages of British and foreign vehicles from those checked found to be over the weight limits were as follows :


Year      |British  |Foreign            

          |Per cent.|Per cent.          

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

1984-85   |23.4     |27.6               

1985-86   |25.8     |25.1               

1986-87   |24.2     |27.6               

1987-88   |22.0     |25.0               

1988-89   |18.5     |24.9               

The statistics relate to those vehicles weighed by Department of Transport and local authority trading standards enforcement staff. The police also weigh vehicles but no information on the numbers weighed is available.

Channel Tunnel

Mr. Rowe : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has passed to the chairman of British Rail the representations from hon. and right hon. Members to consider all alternative proposals for the high speed rail link to the Channel tunnel.

Mr. Portillo : Yes. However, as I said in my answer to the hon. Member for Waveney (Mr. Porter) on Monday 4 December, I accept that now that BR and Eurorail have announced their preferred route through Kent and terminal in London it will not be practicable for them to devote great efforts to examining other proposals.

Cyclists

Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to remove the potential danger to road users of the use by cyclists of personal stereos ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins : There is no clear evidence that personal stereos are causing accidents. However, all road users--


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and vulnerable ones in particular--should make sure that they are able to concentrate fully on driving or riding. They should avoid unnecessary sources of distraction. The highway code for young road users, produced by the County Road Safety Officers Association and sponsored by General Accident, advises cyclists not to wear a personal stereo and we are considering adding similar advice to the highway code.

Vehicle Emissions

Mr. Patrick Thompson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what further steps he is taking to reduce vehicle emissions ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins : Draft amendments to the construction and use regulations were published on 1 December.

The new regulations will mean that virtually all new cars from 1992 onwards will be fitted with catalysts. They set for the first time in the United Kingdom, specific requirements for the user of a vehicle to keep the engine in tune and any emission control equipment in working order.

Cars and lorries need to be designed to meet much tighter emission limits. It is equally important for drivers to recognise their responsibility to keep vehicles properly tuned to keep emissions down. These new regulations will make this responsibility clear.

Road Lighting

Mr. Batiste : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many miles of motorway there were in 1988, 1978 and 1968 ; and what proportion of each were lit.

Mr. Atkins : The information requested is as follows :


           |Miles     |Percentage           

                      |lit                  

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

1968       |493       |5                    

1978       |1,261     |20                   

1988       |1,577     |27                   

These figures relate to motorways in England for which the Secretary of State is the highway authority. The figure for the percentage lit in 1988 is an estimate based on latest available data.

Mr. Batiste : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will specify the research known to his Department to have been conducted into driver reaction times in changing from lit to unlit conditions ; and if he will place copies of the research in the Library.

Mr. Atkins : The research in question is detailed in "The Effect on Vision of Terminations of Isolated Lengths of Fixed Lighting", published by the Australian Road Research Board in 1973. A copy has been placed in the Library.

Mr. Batiste : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what criteria he uses to determine whether or not a stretch of motorway or trunk road should be lit.

Mr. Atkins : The criteria are published in "Appraisal of New and Replacement Lighting on Trunk Roads and Trunk Road Motorways", the Department's highways and traffic advice note TA 49/86. A copy is in the Library.


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Mr. Batiste : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what evidence he has that lighting on motorways can reduce night-time accidents by 30 per cent., and if he will place copies of that evidence in the Library.

Mr. Atkins : The Department's current assessment that the provision of lighting on motorways can lead to a 30 per cent. reduction in night-time accidents is based on international research. That research has been studied by the transport and road research laboratory. It confirmed the Department's assessment. Details of this study are given in "Light on Motorway Accident Rates", an article published by the Institution of Highways and Transportation in 1987. A copy has been placed in the Library.

A20

Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to make a decision on the route of the eastern section of the A20 extension into Dover.

Mr. Atkins : Following public inquiries last year into draft proposals for the Court Wood to Dover section of the A20, my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Transport and for the Environment are announcing their joint decisions tomorrow. I have arranged for my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Shaw) to receive a copy of the decision which is being sent today to all those who submitted objections and representations to the draft proposals and to those who attended or were represented at the inquiries.

Freight Railway Lines

Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many freight railway lines have been opened to passenger traffic under the Transport Act 1962 (Amendment) Act 1981 ; and if he will list these with mileages of track, dates of opening and whether they remain open to passenger traffic.

Mr. Portillo : Fifteen stretches of freight line have been opened or re-opened by British Rail to passenger traffic under the Transport Act 1962 (Amendment) Act 1981. The details are as folows :


Line                                                  |Year       |Approximate            

                                                                  |mileage                

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

Penistone-Barnsley                                    |1983       |7.5                    

Newbridge Junction-Bathgate                           |1986       |10.2                   

Kettering-Corby                                       |1987       |5.5                    

Dore Curve (Derbyshire)                               |1987       |0.25                   

Morecambe-Heysham Harbour                             |1987       |4.0                    

Oxford-Bicester                                       |1987       |10.0                   

Coventry-Nuneaton                                     |1987       |10.0                   

Coatbridge Central-Motherwell                         |1987       |5.0                    

Cardiff City                                          |1987       |4.15                   

Abercynon-Aberdare                                    |1988       |5.75                   

Lichfield City-Lichfield Trent Valley                 |1988       |1.25                   

Bishop Auckland-Stanhope                              |1988       |9.6                    

Walsall-Hednesford                                    |1989       |9.75                   

Thornton West Junction-Thornton South Junction (Fife) |1989       |0.25                   

Altrincham-Stockport                                  |1989       |8.0                    

Note:                                                                                     

All these lines remain open to passenger traffic.                                         


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EMPLOYMENT

Health and Safety

17. Mr. Jack Thompson : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what proposals he has to improve health protection and safety conditions in the workplace.

95. Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what proposals he has to improve health protection and safety conditions in the workplace.

Mr. Nicholls : The Health and Safety Commission's "Plan of Work for 1989-90 and Beyond" published in May 1989 set out the Commission's priorities for improving health and safety at work. As my right hon. Friend announced, the Health and Safety Commissions' request for additional funding has been met in full for the third year running. This will allow for a real growth in activity.

30. Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how he plans to extend health and safety protection at work.

Mr. Nicholls : I refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave to the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong) earlier today.

Labour Statistics

18. Mr. Andrew Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what has been the change in unemployment levels during the last year ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Fowler : In the 12 months to October 1989 seasonally adjusted unemployment in the United Kingdom has fallen by about 484,000 or 22.4 per cent. The percentage fall in unemployment has been larger, nationally and in the majority of regions, in the past year than in either of the previous two years.

82. Mr. Carrington : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the current number of people in employment in the United Kingdom, and in other Overseas Economic Community Development countries.

Mr. Nicholls : In June 1989 the United Kingdom civilian workforce in employment stood at 26,035,000--12 per cent. higher than in June 1983. The following table shows civilian employment in other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, where the information is available, over the same period.


Civilian Employment in O.E.C.D. Countries                                       

Thousands                                                                       

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Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will publish in the Official Report a table showing for the years 1968, 1978 and 1988 the number of employee and self-employed workers divided into manual and non-manual, male and female, adult and juvenile, and full-time and part-time.

Mr. Nicholls : Data for each of the groups requested is only available on a comparable basis from the labour force survey (LFS). Estimates from the 1988 and 1979 LFS (the earliest year for which comparable estimates are available) are shown in the table.


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Employees and self-employed-Great Britain                                                           

Spring estimates                                                                                    

Thousands                                                                                           

                               1979                        1988                                     

                              |Employees    |Self-employed|Employees    |Self-employed              

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

All                           |22,432       |1,778        |21,422       |3,143                      

Of which:                                                                                           

1. Employed in manual                                                                               

   occupations<1>             |11,934       |747          |9,599        |1,403                      

   Employed in non-manual                                                                           

   occupations<1>             |10,498       |1,031        |11,824       |1,740                      

                                                                                                    

2. Males                      |13,302       |1,442        |11,728       |2,358                      

   Females                    |9,130        |337          |9,694        |785                        

                                                                                                    

3. Aged 16 and 17             |785          |<3>-         |683          |11                         

   Aged 18 or over            |21,647       |1,776        |20,739       |3,132                      

                                                                                                    

4. In full-time employment<2> |18,409       |n/a          |16,536       |2,627                      

   In part-time employment<2> |4,022        |n/a          |4,886        |516                        

<1> Using broad occupational groupings based on OPCS Classification of Occupations, 1980.           

<2> Based on respondent's own assessment, not on the number of hours usually worked. In 1979, the   

self-employed were not asked if they worked full or part-time.                                      

<3> Sample size too small to provide a reliable estimate.                                           

n/a=Not available.                                                                                  

105. Mr. Salmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the 10 travel-to-work areas where unemployment is lowest.

106. Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the 10 travel-to-work areas where unemployment is lowest.

107. Mr. Andrew Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the 10 travel-to-work areas where unemployment is lowest.

108. Mrs. Margaret Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the 10 travel-to-work areas where unemployment is lowest.

Mr. Nicholls : The table shows the 10 travel-to-work areas in which the numbers of unemployed claimants expressed as a percentage of the work force plus the unemployed were the lowest in October 1989.


Travel-to-work area      |Unemployed                             

                         |claimants                              

                         |Per cent.                              

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

Crawley                  |1.1                                    

Winchester and Eastleigh |1.3                                    

Windermere               |1.3                                    

Tunbridge Wells          |1.4                                    

Newbury                  |1.4                                    

Bicester                 |1.5                                    

Aylesbury and Wycombe    |1.6                                    

Guildford and Aldershot  |1.6                                    

Cirencester              |1.6                                    

Blandford                |1.6                                    

Mr. Yeo : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the total number of employed and self-employed people in Britain.

Mr. Eggar : In June 1989, the latest date for which figures are available, there were 21,932,000 employees in employment in Great Britain and 3,050,000 self-employed.

98. Mr. Evennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the current number of registered unemployment in Bexley and what was the figure for 1988 and 1987.

Mr. Nicholls : In October 1989, the number of unemployed claimants in the local authority area of Bexley was 3,661 compared with 4,866 in October 1988 and 6,603 in October 1987. These figures are slightly affected by the change in benefit regulations affecting under-18-year-olds in September 1988.

88. Mr. Andrew MacKay : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the current level of unemployment.


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104. Mr. Riddick : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what has been the unemployment change since June 1986 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nicholls : In October 1989, the level of unemployment, seasonally adjusted, in the United Kingdom was 1,674,000, compared with 3,130,200 in June 1986, a fall of 46.5 per cent. Unemployment has now fallen for 39 months running, and is now at its lowest for nine years.

77. Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many travel-to-work areas, on the most recent date for which figures are available, in south-east England, have an unemployment rate (a) over 10 per cent., (b) between five per cent. and 10 per cent. and (c) below five per cent.

Mr. Nicholls : Of the 39 travel-to-work areas in the south-east, 33 had an unemployment rate of less than 5 per cent. in October 1989 and the remainder had rates of between 5 and 10 per cent.

75. Mr. Donald Thompson : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the current unemployment rate in the United Kingdom and in other European Community countries ; and if he will make a statement.

91. Mr. Roger King : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the current unemployment rate in the United Kingdom and the average in the European Community.

Mr. Nicholls : In September 1989, the latest comparable date, unemployment in the United Kingdom was 6.3 per cent. compared to an EEC average of 9.1 per cent. The following table shows a full comparison. Over the past two years the unemployment rate in the United Kingdom has fallen faster than in any other major European country.


Unemployment rates for       

comparison between EEC       

countries                    

Seasonally adjusted          

September 1989               

               |Rate         

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

Luxembourg     |2.0          

West Germany   |5.6          

Portugal       |5.7          

United Kingdom |6.3          

Denmark        |7.4          

Greece         |<1>7.4       

Belgium        |9.6          

Netherlands    |10.0         

France         |10.1         

Italy          |11.0         

Spain          |16.4         

Ireland        |17.0         

                             

EEC average    |9.1          

<1> April 1987.              

69. Mr. Neale : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many people were employed in the United Kingdom in May 1983 and October 1989 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nicholls : The information is not available for the months requested. The work force in employment in the United Kingdom was 23, 613,000 in June 1983. It increased by 2,730,000 to stand at 26,343, 000, the highest level ever, in June 1989.

57. Mr. Ashton : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the current level of male unemployment in the Bassetlaw constituency.


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Mr. Nicholls : In October 1989 the number of male unemployed claimants in the Bassetlaw parliamentary constituency was 2,283.

55. Mr. Kirkhope : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the current level of employment in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Nicholls : In June 1989 the work force in employment in the United Kingdom stood at 26,343,000, the highest level on record. This represents an increase of 479,000 or 1.9 per cent. since June 1988. The rising trend has now continued for six years.

56. Mr. Brando-Bravo : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many people were unemployed in the United Kingdom in May 1983, September 1983, March 1986 and October 1989 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nicholls : The table shows the levels of unemployment, seasonally adjusted, in the United Kingdom for May 1983, September 1983, March 1986, and October 1989. The level of unemployment in October 1989 is the lowest for nine years.


United Kingdom unemployment, seasonally      

adjusted                                     

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

May 1983       |2,785,300|10.5               

September 1983 |2,815,700|10.6               

March 1986     |3,126,600|11.2               

October 1989   |1,674,000| 5.9               

<1>Number of unemployed as a percentage of   

the estimated total workforce.               

47. Mr. Moate : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many people were unemployed in June 1987 and October 1989 ; and if he will make a statement.


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