HC Deb 06 May 1988 vol 132 cc628-44W
Sir John Biggs-Davison

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list the achievements of Her Majesty's Government since May 1979 in respect of the whole of the United Kingdom and also in respect of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister

The rate of inflation has been reduced to levels not seen for 20 years. The United Kingdom is well into its seventh successive year of steady growth, at an average annual rate of 3 per cent.; in 1987 national output grew faster than in any other major industrialised country. Business investment reached a record level in 1987 and is forecast to rise by a further 9 per cent. in 1988. Since 1981, United Kingdom manufacturers have maintained their volume share of world trade, following decades of decline; and in 1987 their share increased slightly. The level of the United Kingdom's net overseas assets has increased sevenfold since 1979 to about £90 billion by the end of 1987, yielding earnings of over £5.5 billion in 1987. Manufacturing productivity has risen at an average annual rate of over 5 per cent. since 1980 — faster than in any other major industrialised country, after being at the bottom of the league in the previous two decades. In 1987, non-North sea company profitability rose to 10.5 per cent., its highest level for over 20 years, having risen in every year since 1981.

The Government have continued to maintain sound public finances, and have now balanced the budget. In 1987–88, for only the second year since the beginning of the 1950s, the Government made a net repayment of public sector debt. The burden of debt interest has fallen, and this, together with continued improvements in efficiency, has enabled the Government to increase spending on priority programmes while ensuring that public expenditure continues to fall as a proportion of GDP.

The Government have pursued a substantial programme of tax reform. The aim has been to create a climate in which businesses can thrive and individual initiative and risk-taking are rewarded. The basic rate of income tax has been reduced from 33 to 25 per cent., and the main personal allowances are fully 25 per cent. higher in real terms than in 1978–79. Nine higher rates of income tax running up to 83 per cent. have been replaced by a single higher rate of 40 per cent. A new system of independent taxation for husbands and wives will apply from 1990. Business taxation has been radically restructured, leaving the United Kingdom corporation tax rate one of the lowest in the industrialised world. Seventeen rates of capital transfer tax running up to 75 per cent. have been replaced by a single rate of 40 per cent. on inheritance; and the taxation of purely inflationary capital gains has been ended. Five taxes and a number of unjustified tax breaks have been abolished.

Since 1979, the Government have privatised 17 major companies and a number of other enterprises. As a result of this policy and tax reliefs designed to encourage shareholding, the number of individual shareowners in the United Kingdom, at one in five of the adult population, has trebled since 1979. Getting on for 40 per cent. of the state-owned industrial sector the Government inherited in 1979 has been returned to private enterprise. And the privatisation programme is set to continue — the Government have already announced their intention to privatise the electricity supply industry, the water authorities in England and Wales and British Steel.

The Government have introduced a large number of measures to improve the operation of markets. Pay, price and dividend controls have been abolished, together with controls on foreign exchange, bank lending and hire purchase, and restrictions on industrial and office development. Incentives have been increased by tax reductions and reform and by the restructuring of national insurance contributions. The Government have introduced a tax relief to encourage the spread of profit-related pay.

Employment in Great Britain has risen by almost 1.7 million since March 1983, the longest period of sustained employment growth in almost 30 years. Unemployment throughout the United Kingdom has fallen by over 700,000 from its July 1986 peak and the unemployment rate is now below the European Community average. It has fallen in all regions of the country with the biggest falls over the last year in the west midlands, the north-west and Yorkshire and Humberside. Long-term unemployment in the United Kingdom fell by a record 234,000 in the year to January, whilst unemployment among under-25s is at its lowest level for over five years and is now much lower than the European Community average.

Changes in employment legislation and measures to assist labour mobility have improved the operation of the labour market. Many restrictions on the employment of women have been lifted.

The Government's policies have helped the small firms sector to grow rapidly and to make a substantial contribution to employment and wealth creation. About 1 million additional jobs were created in the United Kingdom by small firms and self-employment between 1982 and 1984, and since 1980 the number of small firms has grown by around 500 a week. Self-employment has risen by over 1 million since June 1979. The small firms service provides advice and support for small firms. The enterprise allowance scheme has helped over 300,000 people in Great Britain to set up in business on their own. The Government have helped create a network of local enterprise agencies to encourage the development of small firms.

The Government have introduced entirely new approaches to delivering practical help for unemployed people to get back to work. Since July 1986, some 3.5 million personal interviews have been carried out under restart. 90 per cent. of them resulting in an offer of positive help from the range of opportunities available, including job-clubs and the still expanding enterprise allowance scheme. The Government have taken steps to ensure that benefits are properly paid to those who are entitled to them and not to others. The work of jobcentres, previously administered by the Manpower Services Commission, and that of the unemployment benefit service have now been brought together in the employment service, with the priority of giving effective help to unemployed people, especially the long-term unemployed, and placing them in jobs and training.

The Government have revolutionised vocational education and training for young people through the technical and vocational education initiative (TVEI) and two-year youth training scheme (YTS). The TVEI became a national scheme last autumn. Over 1.5 million young people have had vocational training under YTS, and a wide range of courses leading towards a vocational qualification is available to all 16 and 17-year-old school leavers. From September this year, all young people not going into a job or staying in full-time education will be guaranteed YTS until their 18th birthday. Unemployment on social security benefit will no longer be an option for this group.

The Government have announced a major new programme, employment training, building on the experience and successes of the community programme and the new job training scheme. The Government will guarantee employment training or a place in the enterprise allowance scheme or in a job club to all those aged between 18 and 25 who have been unemployed for between six and 12 months, and also aim to provide employment training for those over 25 who have been unemployed for two years. The National Council for Vocational Qualifications is establishing a clear system of relevent vocational qualifications.

Legislation has been passed protecting members against abuses of trade union power, extending their rights to influence the affairs of their unions and restoring the balance in industrial relations between managements and unions. In particular, secondary blacking and picketing have been made unlawful and unions are required to hold ballots before strike action.

The Government have stepped up the attack on urban decay and have given priority to encouraging investment in inner city areas through a range of measures amounting to some £3 billion in 1988–89. A new action for cities drive was launched in March 1988 which included a new urban development corporation in Sheffield and the extension of the existing corporation in Merseyside; streamlined grants to encourage the development of inner city land arid buildings; more help for small businesses in inner city areas; further Government support for links between schools and employers; new crime prevention initiatives; and better inner city roads. To help pull together the various Government programmes involved, city action teams have been established based in Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne and Nottingham. At local level, 16 inner city task forces support projects which open up job and enterprise opportunities for local residents.

The Government have launched a major five-year campaign to ensure that business in every part of the country is fully prepared to take advantage of the single market that will exist in the European Community by 1992.

The Government have encouraged competition throughout the economy. Proposals have been published for the reform of the legislation on mergers and restrictive trade practices.

The Government have launched the enterprise initiative, with the objective of helping businesses acquire the skills and information they require to compete effectively.

The balance of regional policy has been changed so that the Government's enterprise policies are properly reflected in the regions.

The emphasis of the Government's financial support for industry has shifted to industrial innovation. Support is now concentrated on collaborative research programmes, including the LINK scheme which brings together academic and industrial researchers, and the Eureka initiative for collaborative research in Europe.

The Financial Services Act has established a statutory framework for self-regulation of the financial services industry in the interests of investor protection, under the Securities and Investments Board and a number of self-regulatory organisations.

The Government have been active to strengthen safeguards against fraud and to ensure that the probity of our financial institutions is maintained without undermining their competitiveness. The Companies Acts 1980 and 1981 strengthened the powers of investigation and the courts' powers to disqualify directors for misconduct; and made insider dealing a criminal offence.

The Government have worked actively to maintain the world open trading system and are contributing to the current Uruguay round of multilateral trade negotiations, which was launched in 1986 under the United Kingdom presidency.

Since 1979 productivity per person has increased by nearly 50 per cent. in agriculture and over 35 per cent. in the food manufacturing industry. Prices of food to consumers have risen more slowly than the general price level. The annual rate of increase in food prices since May 1979 has been 5.8 per cent. Exports of food, feed and alcoholic beverages have more than doubled since 1979.

Reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP), to tackle the problems of burgeoning expenditure and surplus production, has been significantly advanced by the agreement at the European Council in February on the application of budget discipline to the CAP, notably through the introduction or extension of stabilisers in all the main CAP commodity regimes. The stabilisers, which link full levels of support to predetermined quantities of production and provide for reductions in support if these quantities are exceeded, are intended to act as a disincentive to surplus production and thus to help bring supply and demand into better balance. These measures carry forward the process of reform of the CAP which has included the introduction of milk quotas in 1984, changes to the milk and beef regimes (including the maintenance of the beef variable premium) agreed under the United Kingdom presidency in December 1986, and measures to weaken intervention in the cereals and oilseeds sectors introduced in 1987.

The Government have also successfully negotiated the sheepmeat regime. The wool guarantee, the suckler cow premium and expenditure on hill livestock compensatory allowances have all been increased.

The Government have introduced measures designed to encourage farming practices which are beneficial to the landscape and to the conservation of wildlife, and have announced a number of new policy initiatives designed to encourage alternative uses of farmland, and to increase diversity on farms and in the rural economy generally. The Government recast capital grants in 1985 to put a strong emphasis on assistance for conservation work on farms and on investment to prevent pollution of rivers and streams from farm waste. Prompt action was taken to assist those farmers and growers affected by the storm of 16 October last year through specific emergency grant schemes. The sale, supply and use of pesticides has been brought under statutory control to ensure safe use in relation to operators, consumers and the environment.

After protracted and difficult negotiations, the Government secured an EC common fisheries policy settlement in 1983 on terms very favourable to the United Kingdom. Conservation, control and structural measures have all been strengthened. As part of that settlement and subsequently. The Salmon Act 1986 strengthened powers to deal with illegal fishing and made improvements in the conservation and management of salmon. In Scotland a new inshore fisheries regime has been established. The value of United Kingdom fish landings and of fish farming output has increased substantially.

Control to ensure protection of the marine environment have been strengthened, and substantial reductions have been achieved in the low levels of contaminants in material licensed for disposal at sea.

In transport, the Government have successfully increased consumer choice and efficiency by promoting competition in the provision of services.

British Airways and the British Airports Authority have been privatised. The Government have authorised the development of Stansted as London's third airport, encouraged the development of airport facilities in the regions, improved the management of the main local authority airports by having them transferred to companies, and have banned the noisiest aircraft from operating at British airports. The Government have strengthened competition on international routes within Europe and over the north Atlantic by negotiating more liberal bilateral arrangements and have secured agreement to a package of liberalisation measures within the European Community as a first step towards completion of the internal aviation market.

In England local bus services outside London have been deregulated. This has resulted in greater competition between operators, more innovation and flexibility in meeting the needs of passengers, and lower costs and subsidies, as well as an increase in the overall provision of bus mileage. The privatisation of the National Bus Company has been completed well ahead of schedule, and the majority of its subsidiaries have been bought by their own managers or employees. British Rail has been given objectives for improving the quality of its services and increasing its efficiency through reduced subsidy. It is now set to meet its 1989–90 objective while sustaining an ambitious and increasing investment programme to improve quality of service. This means that its subsidy will have been reduced by almost 45 per cent. between 1983 and 1989–90.

The Government have successfully promoted cooperation between public and private sectors in projects such as the Channel tunnel, the London docklands light railway and the Dartford-Thurrock crossing of the Thames.

The Merchant Shipping Act includes measures to improve safety and encourage the employment of British seafarers aboard British ships. Extensive action has been taken to improve ferry safety following the tragic Zeebrugge desaster.

In England capital investment in trunk roads has increased by over 30 per cent. since 1979. Some 750 miles of new and improved motorways and other trunk roads have been completed, including 300 miles of bypasses. The Government are supporting 340 major local authority road schemes, most of which are aimed at bypassing local communities or relieving them of traffic. The Government's continuing concentration on road and vehicle safety measures has given us the best road accident record in Europe. Casualty figures for 1987 were the lowest for 30 years, despite a fourfold increase in traffic in the same period; and pedestrian deaths were the lowest ever recorded. The aim is to reduce casualties by one third by the year 2000.

Government policies on taxation and licensing helped to make 1987 the third best year ever for drilling activities in the North sea, despite the 1986 fall in oil prices. Domestic gas now costs less in real terms than in 1970, while the price of electricity for domestic consumers has gone down by 8 per cent. in real terms in the last five years.

Deep-mined productivity of coal production is now 60 per cent. higher than it was in 1978–79 and some 50 per cent. higher than the average for 1983–84, before the miners' strike. This encouraging growth in productivity reflects a continuing effort by all concerned to produce coal at a price the market can afford.

In England spending on the Health Service is up by 39 per cent. in real terms from £6.4 billion in 1978–79 to £18.9 billion now. There are over 10,000 more doctors and dentists and over 50,000 more nurses and midwives. Capital spending has increased from £373 million to £1.1 billion, a 32 per cent. increase in real terms. Some 270 health building schemes, each worth over £1 million have been started and completed. Over 1 million more inpatient cases are now being dealt with each year, and waiting lists are down by 64,000.

The Government made an extra £25 million available to health authorities in England last year, through the waiting list fund, to tackle waiting black spots. Indications are that they have used the extra funding to treat some 100,000 more cases. The Government have increased the fund to some £30 million in the current year and the aim will be at least to equal last year's ambitious achievements.

There is already clear evidence that the general managers who have been appointed throughout the Health Service are providing energetic and innovative leadership, with speedier and more incisive decision making. Health authorities are continuing to improve efficiency and their cost improvement programmes have yielded savings worth over £560 million in the past four years. Savings worth some £150 million are planned for this year.

The Government have set up an independent review body to recommend on nurses' pay, have implemented all five of its reports, and have funded 90 per cent. of the costs of those awards. The 1988 report will be implemented in full and fully funded, with the result that nurses will receive their highest ever level of pay in real terms, and will have received on average a 44 per cent. increase in real terms since 1979.

The Government have developed a comprehensive strategy in response to the threat of AIDS and have taken, and will continue to take, all necessary measures to contain the spread of the virus.

In the social services field there have been increases in places in training centres and community homes for mentally handicapped people. There are more home help staff, more social work staff, more places in day centres for elderly people, and many more places in residential and nursing homes.

Following publication of the White Paper "Promoting Better Health", the Government have opened up discussions with professions about arrangements for implementing a wide range of important reforms in the delivery of primary health care. The emphasis is on health promotion, better services for the consumer and value for money.

Government expenditure on social security is now at its highest level ever both in cash and real terms. Spending on social security is up by 39 per cent. in real terms from £16.4 billion in 1978–79 to £46.4 billion to 1987–88. For pensioners, the Government's main achievement has been to provide the opportunity for average incomes to grow by 18 per cent. in real terms over the period. Total expenditure, including rate rebates on benefits for the elderly and spending on 1 million extra pensioners, has risen by 31 per cent. in real terms.

The Government have undertaken a fundamental review of the social security system resulting in the Social Security Act 1986. Most of the provisions of that Act have now been implemented. Statutory maternity pay was introduced in 1987; income support has now replaced supplementary benefit, family credit has replaced family income supplement, housing benefit has been changed, and the social fund has been introduced. This will make the system simpler and easier to understand, direct help more effectively to those who need it, and improve work incentives. Over £200 million extra has been provided for family credit to help low-income working families with children.

An objective of the Government has been to encourage the spread of occupational and personal pensions, and to give people more choice in how to provide for their retirement. In 1985 the Government gave everyone leaving an employment scheme the right to a fair transfer value to a new employer's scheme or to buy a deferred annuity. The Government also gave members rights to all the information they need to take decisions about their pension. The Social Security Act 1986 gave everyone the choice between staying fully in SERPS or an employer's scheme or having a personal pension scheme, and employees will he able to boost their pension rights by making extra contributions.

Since 1979, substantial progress has been made in reforming the structure and financial basis of local authorities to make them more accountable and reponsive to the needs of their local electorates, and to give better value for money in the provision of local services. The structure of local government in England has been simplified and improved with the abolition of an unnecessary tier of government in Greater London and the Metropolitan areas. The Audit Commission for England and Wales was established in 1983 and has already made great progress in identifying opportunities for improving value for money in local government, some of which are beginning to show results. Legislation on competition is ensuring that local authorities in Great Britain subject the provision of an increasing range of their services to the discipline of competitive tendering. The Widdicombe committee on the conduct of local authority business identified a number of measures needed to improve local authority procedures and avoid abuses, and the Government are following up the recommendation in stages. Measures on local government finance have restrained the growth of local authority expenditure in Great Britain, particularly in some of the more extravagant high-spending authorities. The Local Government Finance Bill currently before Parliament makes provision for the abolition of domestic rates in England and Wales and their replacement by a fairer and more broadly based community charge. The same Bill includes provisions to remedy the uneven burden of non-domestic rates on businesses through the establishment of a nationally determined uniform business rate.

In housing, the Government introduced the first statutory charter of rights for public sector tenants including the right to buy. Since then over 1 million tenants in Great Britain have bought their homes. The stock of owner-occupied dwellings in Britain has increased by 3 million; more people own their homes than ever before; and 64 per cent. of all dwellings are owner-occupied. There has been a net increase in the stock as a whole of about 1.6 million—more than enough to keep pace with the growth in the number of households over the period.

Grants for home improvements have been at a historically high level; improved targeting on those in most need is being introduced. The Government's estate action programme has helped local authorities with over 200 schemes on rundown council estates in England. A scheme of assistance has been introduced for owners of defective houses previously in the public sector throughout Great Britain, and good progress has been made. Measures have been introduced to strengthen the rights of leaseholders living in private blocks of flats.

The Housing Bill, which is currently before Parliament, aims to broaden the choice open to tenants and encourage more private investment in housing in England and Wales; it will deregulate rents in the independent rented sector; provide the basis for an expansion of the housing association movement; allow for the establishment of housing action trusts in some of the most rundown areas of local authority housing; and provide all secure local authority tenants with the opportunity to transfer to new landlords approved by the Housing Corporation.

In the environment, the Government have created a unified inspectorate of pollution for England and Wales with a remit to develop an integrated approach to pollution control. Following a successful initiative in Europe to bring to an end the addition of lead to petrol, the maximum lead content of petrol has been cut by 60 per cent, a tax differential in favour of unleaded petrol of 11p a gallon has been introduced and unleaded petrol is now available at over 800 sites.

The Government have taken steps to reduce the pollution of our rivers, estuaries and beaches. Last year the United Kingdom chaired the North sea conference which produced an important package of measures to safeguard and enhance the quality of the North sea.

The Government have made, substantial progress in securing the future of the natural heritage. In Great Britain, over 5,000 sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) have been notified or renotfied as part of the implementation of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981; this process is now 85 per cent. complete. Also, 26 special protection areas have been designated throughout the United Kingdom under the European birds directive, and 35 wetlands of international importance under the ramsar convention.

The Government have taken a wide range of steps to simplify and improve the planning system and to speed up its operation, while protecting and enhancing the environment in town and country. The area of approved green belt in England has more than doubled since 1979; the annual acreage of agricultural land taken for development in England and Wales the 1980s is less than one third of the levels seen in the 1960s and early 1970s; and nearly one half of land for new housing development in England is either redeveloped land or vacant land within urban areas.

The Government have introduced sweeping reforms in the education system in England and Wales. The Education Reform Bill now before Parliament aims to improve the standards of achievement of all pupils through the introduction of a national curriculum for the 5 to 16 age group of core and foundation subjects for which attainment targets, programmes of study and arrangements for assessment and testing will be established; to widen the choice available to parents for the education of their children; to ensure that schools can admit pupils up to the limit of their capacity; to require all local education authorities to develop schemes of resource allocation to schools and to delegate budgetary control to all further education colleges, secondary schools and larger primary schools; to offer all secondary schools and larger primary schools the opportunity to apply to opt out of local authority control; to establish polytechnics and other major colleges as independent institutions; and to reform the arrangements for funding the university system.

In addition, the Government continue to seek to improve teaching quality, and have introduced a new 16-plus examination system, the GCSE based on national criteria, and the AS levels to broaden A-level studies. The technical and vocational education initiative has been introduced to boost practical elements in the 14 to 18 curriculum. In higher education, record numbers of students have been admitted and the Government have endorsed plans which provide for a continuation of the shift towards science, engineering and other vocational subjects.

The Government have substantially increased the manpower and other resources available to the police and have strengthened their powers to deal with public disorder. Over 50,000 neighbourhood watch schemes are now in operation in Great Britain. A total of £80 million is being invested in crime prevention this year and a new national crime prevention organisation will be established to co-ordinate local initiatives and spread good practice. An independent Crown Prosecution service is now in operation throughout England and Wales. Twenty-four senior and 34 junior attendance centres have been opened.

Measures have been taken to ensure that the terms of imprisonment served by violent offenders fully reflect society's abhorrence of their crimes. Government assistance to the victims' support movement has been greatly expanded: £11 million will be provided over the next three financial years to help local schemes. The Government have continued to develop an overall strategy for countering drug misuse and illicit trafficking. The Video Recordings Act has brought "video nasties" under control.

Legislation has also been put through for data protection; to provide more rigorous control of animal experimentation; to provide a framework for the development of broadcasting by satellite and cable television (including the establishment of the Welsh fourth channel); to set out a new framework for police powers, for providing safeguards for the citizen and for handling complaints against the police, to control the possession and sale of alcohol in connection with football matches; to provide for the establishment of the serious fraud office, now in operation, and make other improvements in the investigation, prosecution and trial of fraud offences; and to provide comprehensive new powers to investigate, restrain and confiscate the proceeds of drug trafficking, where the Government are working for international agreements to make such powers more generally effective.

The Government have recently set up an inquiry to consider allegations that former war criminals may be living in this country. The Government have played a major role in developing international co-operation in the fight against terrorism and have strengthened police powers under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The policy of fair immigration control has seen the number of people accepted for settlement in the United Kingdom fall from 69,700 in 1979 to 45,500 in 1987, the lowest total since Commonwealth citizens became subject to control in 1962.

The Government introduced measures to improve controls on possession of firearms and shotguns; to remove outdated restrictions in liquor licensing law; to enable the United Kingdom to participate more effectively in the international fight against crime, including a major reform of extradition laws; to make provision for courts to order the confiscation of the proceeds of profitable crime; to provide for unduly lenient sentences to be reviewed; to create a statutory right for the victims of crime to receive compensation; to tighten the law on possession of knives and to ban the sale of offensive weapons which have no legitimate use; and to strengthen the jury system.

The Government have continued the reform of family law; have legislated to remove the legal disadvantages of children born outside marriage; and have brought schemes into effect to combat the evils of child abduction both within the United Kingdom and throughout the world. The Government have simplified conveyancing and extended the areas in which titles have to be registered.

A Legal Aid Bill has been introduced to set up a new board to administer legal aid and generally to ensure that legal aid is operated as efficiently and effectively as possible. The Government have continued the major programme of simplification and consolidation of our statute law.

In the arts, the National Heritage Memorial Fund has been established with funding of some £90 million to date. There has been a significant upsurge in business sponsorship — the Government's business sponsorship incentive scheme has brought £16 million of new money into the arts in four years. Major progress has been made with the building of the new British Library at St. Pancras, and there have been major expansion schemes at some of the national museums and galleries, including with the Tate gallery's Clore gallery and the Tate gallery at Liverpool, the National gallery's Sainsbury wing, and the redevelopment of the Imperial war museum.

In defence, a substantial increase in resources has enabled the capability of the armed forces to be strengthened. The Government played its full part in implementing the NATO twin-track decision to modernise intermediate range nuclear weapons while seeking to achieve an arms control agreement, and this policy has been vindicated by the INF treaty. Increased efficiency is being pursued by the continuing transfer of resources from the support areas to the front line, and by introducing increased competition in defence contracts and promoting collaboration with our international partners. Major reorganisation of the headquarters structure of the Ministry of Defence has been introduced.

In foreign policy, the Government have maintained Britain's firm commitment to national defence and the NATO Alliance, and have promoted closer European defence co-operation — including through a revitalised Western European Union—as a means of strengthening the European pillar of the Alliance. At the same time, the Government have worked vigorously for a more stable relationship between East and West, seeking verifiable reductions in nuclear and conventional weapons and a global ban on chemical weapons, greater co-operation in settling regional conflicts and full respect for human rights. British Ministers and representatives have been active in building up an East-West dialogue with these aims and in promoting the setting priorities for the arms control process. The Government played a leading role in the conference on disarmament in Europe in which was successfully concluded in autumn 1986, and gave full support to our United States allies in their negotiations with the USSR over INF, which concluded last autumn with agreement on the global elimination of United States and Soviet land-based INF missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km.

Within the European Community, the Government reached agreement at Fontainebleau in 1984 that the United Kingdom should pay a fairer share of the EC budget. In the United Kingdom presidency in 1986, and at the Brussels European Council this February, the Government secured major reforms of the common agricultural policy, including a binding ceiling on agricultural spending and automatic cost-cutting regime, for all commodities.

The Government have helped make it the Community's top priority to complete the single European market and services by 1992 so as to give our industry improved access to important markets in Europe and a better base from which to compete in world markets. The Government have championed measures to help our citizens, such as less regulation, cheaper air fares and higher product safety standards.

The Government supported the entry of Greece, Spain and Portugal into the Community, thereby underpinning their democracy and strengthening NATO. At British initiative the EC member states have agreed an internationally binding basis for closer co-operation in foreign policy.

Rhodesia was brought to legal independence as the Republic of Zimbabwe in 1980. The Government resolutely upheld and continue to defend the right of the Falklands islanders to live in peace under a Government of their own choosing. An agreement with China about the future of Hong Kong was ratified in 1985 and good progress has since been made implementing that agreement. The Gilbraltar border has been reopened, and negotiations have been started with Spain aimed at overcoming all our differences over the Rock.

At the United Nations and elsewhere the Government have supported the international rule of law and respect for human rights. With our Commonwealth and European partners, the Government have worked towards ending apartheid in South Africa by peaceful means. The Government have worked successfully for financial and administrative reform in the United Nations and have promoted international co-operation to combat terrorism and drug-trafficking. With the World Health Organisation, the Government organised the 1988 London summit of Ministers of Health on programmes for AIDS prevention, which was attended by 148 countries.

The Government have maintained a substantial and effective aid programme, totalling £11 billion in the period 1979–87. While the bulk of our bilateral aid has been focused on the poorest countries, the Government have provided long-term help to nearly 130 developing countries in all. The Government have responded swiftly and generously to appeals for emergency aid to sub-Saharan Africa and have taken the lead in promoting measures to relieve sub-Saharan African countries of their official debts.

Within the last year, unemployment in Scotland has fallen by 47,500. Manufacturing productivity in Scotland increased by 5.6 per cent. per annum between 1979 and the first half of 1987. Service sector employment showed an increase of over 62,000 between June 1983 and June 1987, and the number of self-employed increased by 45,000 between June 1981 and June 1987, compared with virtually no change in the three decades to 1981.

Since the introduction of the enterprise allowance scheme in 1983, nearly 30,000 unemployed people have been helped to start up in business, and over 132,000 people are currently benefiting from the Government's employment and training measures in Scotland. The Manpower Services Commission plans to spend some £330 million in Scotland in the current year.

In 1987, there was a net growth of 2,500 in company registrations in Scotland. Between 1979 and 1986, the output of the Scottish electronics industry rose by around 133 per cent. in real terms, and between 1979 and 1986 electrical and instrument engineering output in Scotland rose by nearly 90 per cent. Inward investment of some £2.6 billion, planned to create or safeguard some 50,000 jobs, has been attracted to Scotland since the formation of "Locate in Scotland" in 1981.

Owner-occupation among Scots has increased significantly, from 35 to over 43 per cent. A major contribution to this increase has been the 113,000 tenants who have exercised their right to buy their houses under the statutory charter of rights for public sector tenants introduced in 1980. The Housing (Scotland) Bill will set up a new housing development agency, Scottish Homes, which will play a key role in revitalising Scotland's housing and will promote more diverse patterns of tenure in the public sector. The volume of applications for home improvement and repairs grants has increased substantially. The Government have enabled the number of houses let by housing associations in Scotland to increase sixfold since 1979.

Legislation providing for the abolition of domestic rates in Scotland and their replacement by a community charge payable by all adults was enacted in 1987 and the new system will come into operation in 1989.

In town and country planning in Scotland, measures have been taken to speed up the planning system. On the planning requirements of high technology industries, small businesses, private housebuilders and major retail development, the Government have taken steps to allow the establishment of simplified planning zones. Major initiatives have been taken to reform and simplify the building control system to reduce restrictions while maintaining public safeguards. Access for disabled persons to public buildings has been greatly improved by reforms in building regulations.

The deregulation of local bus services in Scotland has been achieved with service levels maintained overall and improvements in many areas. The Government have stimulated innovation through competition while cutting subsidies. Since 1979, over £710 million has been invested in motorways and trunk roads in Scotland, including completion of the 127 miles of the A9 from Perth to Easter Ross, and substantial progress has been made on the Perth-Dundee-Aberdeen route, the A75 between Gretna and Stranraer, and the A82 alongside Loch Lomond. Twenty-seven bypasses, relieving communities of through traffic, have been opened.

Major reforms have been introduced in the education system. The Education (Scotland) Act 1981 gave parents a right to choose their children's school. Over 116,000 placing requests have been made to date and about 94 per cent. of them have been successful. That Act also increased educational opportunity by the introduction of the assisted places scheme from which more than 2,600 children benefited in 1987–88. The School Boards (Scotland) Bill, now before Parliament will further extend parental involvement through the creation of school boards. The school examination system is being modernised with the introduction of standard grade and associated revision of highers and certificate of sixth year studies. The technical and vocational educational initiative is being extended throughout Scotland. Proposals have been brought forward to revise the school curriculum for ages 5–14 and to improve assessment techniques, including the introduction of nationally standardised testing in key elements of English and mathematics at ages eight and 12. The number of students in full-time higher education in Scotland is at the highest level ever recorded and radical changes in further education have greatly increased the take-up of vocational training at all levels.

Police manpower in Scotland has increased, and, in order to release police officers for operational duties, the Government are encouraging civilianisation of posts wherever possible. Increased attention has been devoted to crime prevention.

The Government have intensified the campaign against drug misuse. Drug wings have been established in the Scottish crime squad and all eight Scottish police forces now have a specialised drug squad or unit. Since 1979, a total of 52 major hospital developments have been completed in Scotland, providing 5,803 beds and 481 day places. A further 34 schemes are in planning, under construction or being commissioned, which will provide a further 4,484 beds. In addition to the public education campaigns on AIDS, the Government have this year made over £6 million available to health boards throughout Scotland in recognition of the extra burdens which AIDS places upon them, including funding for three special AIDS units in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee. The Government have supported several projects for research on HIV infection and AIDS and have provided funding for studies into the incidence of AIDS in Scotland. In addition, the Government encourage and support voluntary sector initiatives in the AIDS field in Scotland.

An extra £7.6 million was allocated to health boards in 1987–88 of which £3.6 million was devoted to schemes to reduce waiting lists. A special fund of £3 million has been set aside for 1988–89 which will fund projects to reduce waiting times for patients. Health boards are also being asked to increase the priority they give to this area.

The Government's commitment to the outlying areas of Scotland is demonstrated by the Western Isles integrated development programme which ended its five-year span in 1987 and provided £56 million to improve socioeconomic conditions in the area and by the five-year agricultural development programme for Scottish islands which started this month. This provides £38 million to increase the efficiency of agricultural businesses without adding to overall agricultural production.

Five environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs) have been designated in Scotland under which farmers can receive payments for agreeing to farm in a conservation-friendly way. These areas are in different parts of the country and include the Machair ESA in the crofting area of Scotland. The Government remain fully committed to the expansion of forestry and are now replacing the anomalous tax arrangements for forestry with a much improved grant scheme.

The Government's commitment to promote art and culture in Scotland has resulted in major new galleries for the Burrell collection in Glasgow and for modern art in Edinburgh. A new home for the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama was opened earlier this year and the first phase of a new building for the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh will be opened next year.

The Government have done more than any previous Administration to secure the future of the Gaelic language. A new specific grants scheme for Gaelic education, designed to improve the quality of Gaelic teaching and curriculum in schools was introduced in 1986. Grants under the scheme amount to £0.5 million in the current year. In addition, substantially increased resources have been allocated to a range of organisations providing support for Gaelic language and culture.

In Northern Ireland, the Government have pursued the policy of combating terrorism, within the rule of law, by the most effective means available. In the implementation of this policy, the security forces have conducted themselves with great courage and skill: many terrorists have been apprehended, much material has been recovered, and a large number of terrorist operations have been frustrated, which would otherwise have added to the tragic roll of death and suffering.

The Government have continued to implement the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and have pressed for better cross-border security co-operation within the framework of it.

The Government's efforts to find an agreed basis on which greater responsibility can be devolved to the elected representatives of the people of Northern Ireland have continued.

A key objective of Government policy is to regenerate the private sector in Northern Ireland and release the region's potential for economic growth. To this end, the industrial development organisations in Northern Ireland have promoted 64,450 jobs, while the youth training programme has provided opportunities for an estimated 72,000 entrants with some 23,500 man years of work provided by the action for community employment scheme. At any time, some 29,000 persons are benefiting from a wide range of employment and training resources. A firm commitment has been made and significant steps taken to secure equality of opportunity in employment.

Belfast city centre has been revitalised both in terms of housing and commerce. Housing conditions have shown improvement with a considerable reduction in the level of unfitness, and a significant increase in the level of owner-occupation.

Proposals for the reform of the educational system to improve educational standards together with new opportunities and incentives for existing schools seeking to promote integrated education have recently been published.

In addition, substantial programmes have been maintained in agriculture, health and personal social services, environmental services and social security.

Since the establishment of WINvest in 1983, Wales has secured over 220 inward investment projects from overseas companies promising some 25,000 new or safeguarded jobs and involving about £800 million of capital investment. Since 1979, the Government have committed over £130 million — at today's prices — to the land reclamation programme in Wales, one of the largest arid most sustained programmes in Europe, and the Welsh Development Agency has constructed some 7 million sq ft of factory space. The success of the Development Board for Rural Wales is indicated by an estimated 3.5 per cent. increase in the population of the area covered by the board between 1979 and 1986. Three enterprise zones set up by the Government are located in Wales; at Swansea, Delyn and the Milford Haven waterway. Over 8,500 people are currently employed in these zones, of whom 3,600 are in new jobs.

The Government have supported the rapid spread of local enterprise agencies in Wales, of which there are now 23. Such agencies have had £8.8 million of central Government assistance and they estimate that they have helped to create 18,900 jobs.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment in Wales has fallen in each of the last 22 months—a fall over that period cif 3.1 percentage points.

Since their institution in 1982, urban development grants of some £34 million have been awarded to 67 projects throughout Wales. These are expected to bring forward a total private sector investment of some £159 million. As part of the Government's policy for inner city areas, the Cardiff Bay development corporation was established on 3 April 1987 to regenerate the docklands area. In 1988–89, a total of £16.2 million will be made available, the first tranche of a total commitment of nearly £50 million over the first three years. Since 1981. the number of self-employed in Wales has increased by 34,000 to 149,000.

Owner-occupation has increased from 59 per cent. or housing stock in 1979 to 68 per cent. Almost 60,000 public sector dwellings have been sold to their tenants under right to buy and voluntary terms since 1980 and over 50,000 new homes have been built for sale. Since 1979, the proportion of Welsh households lacking basic amenities has more than halved.

Over 142,000 home improvement grant schemes for private sector dwellings have been completed since July 1979 with a value of £414 million. In the same period, £339 million has been spent on the renovation of local authority housing stock. Since 1982, over 5,500 dwellings have been improved under enveloping schemes.

Expenditure on the Health Service in Wales has risen by over 42 per cent. after allowing for general inflation between 1978–79 and 1988–89. Over £500 million at current prices will have been invested in the capital estate of hospital and community health services and five major new hospitals have been opened. Nearly 24 per cent. more patients were treated in 1986 than 1979. Medical and dental staff have increased by 13 per cent. and nursing and midwifery staff by 20 per cent. during this period.

Current expenditure on education, excluding school meals and milk, was 7.8 per cent. higher in real terms in 1986–87 than in 1978–79. Pupil numbers dropped by 14.8 per cent. in the same period: and expenditure per primary pupil rose by over 21 per cent. from £747 to £909, and per secondary pupil by nearly 28 per cent. from £1,033 to £1,320, their best ever levels.

Since 1979, over £700 million has been spent on the construction and improvement of roads in Wales providing 22 miles of motorway and 107 miles of trunk road. The Government have begun construction of the first ever immersed road tunnel in the United Kingdom—the Conway crossing/A55 scheme.

Since 1979–80, overall net resources made available to the Wales tourist board have increased by 170 per cent., including an increase of 140 per cent. in project support, which over the period has stimulated £78 million of mainly private sector investment and created almost 3,500 new jobs.

The Government's direct financial support for the Welsh language has increased annually from £0.2 million in 1979–80 to nearly £3.3 million in 1988–89. This is an increase in real terms of some 750 per cent. in that period.

Position held Length ofservice Grade Salary £ per annum
Principal Private Secretary 2 years 8 months Grade 2 45,500
Private Secretary 3 years 10 months G3 34,000
Secretary for Appointments 6 years 1 month G5 29,465
Private Secretary 0 year 4 months G5 28,215
Private Secretary 3 years 1 month G5 25,815
Private Secretary 1 year 7 months G5 21,092
Assistant Private Secretary 4 years 2 months SEO 15,779
Assistant Private Secretary 15 years 1 month Assistant 1 Prime Minister's Office 15,779
Chief Press Officer 8 years 2 months G3 43,000
Press Officer 1 year 2 months G5 28,215
Press Officer 1 year 9 months SIO 15,823
Press Officer 0 year 7 months SEO 15,779
Press Officer 0 year 1 month SIO 14,629
Press Officer 1 year 0 months SIO 14,629
Adviser (Policy Unit) 1 year 9 months G5 25,815
Security Co-ordinator 2 years 2 months Adviser (part time) 11,161
Support Staff 4 years 2 months HEO 12,878
Support Staff 4 years 4 months HEO 12,878
Support Staff 0 years 10 months HEO 12,878
Records Reviewer 1 year 0 months HEO (part time) 5,365.83
Support Staff 17 years 2 months Assistant 2 Prime Minister's Office 12,672
Support Staff 8 years 1 month HEO 12,878
Support Staff 10 years 2 months EO 10,292
Support Staff 0 years 6 months EO 10,292
Support Staff 1 year 4 months EO 10,292
Support Staff 0 year 10 months EO 10,292
Support Staff 1 year 8 months EO 10,292
Support Staff 0 year 4 months EO 10,292
Support Staff 2 years 6 months EO 10,292
Support Staff 1 year 5 months EO 10,292
Office Manager 15 years 4 months EO 11,119
Support Staff 4 years 6 months EO 9,278
Support Staff 0 years 5 months AO 6,554
Support Staff 2 years 4 months AO 7,247
Support Staff 0 years 10 months AO 7,247

Since the Government decision to set up the Welsh fourth television channel in 1982, S4C has been an outstanding success in both artistic and employment terms.