§ Mr. Nicholas Bennett
To ask the Prime Minister if she will update her answer of 6 May 1988,Official Report, columns 628–44, on the major achievements of Her Majesty's Government since May 1979.
§ The Prime Minister
The United Kingdom is well into its eighth successive year of sustained economic growth, at an annual average rate of over 3 per cent. The seven years to 1988 have seen a combination of strong and steady growth not seen since world war 2. The United Kingdom economy has grown faster than all other major European Community countries during the 1980s. Retail price inflation has averaged 5 per cent. since 1983, compared to an average of over 15 per cent. from March 1974 to April 1979.
Business investment in 1988 was the highest ever recorded as a percentage of GDP and in the 1980s as a whole it has grown faster than in all other major European countries; only Japan among the Group of Seven major industrialised nations has had faster business investment growth. Over the past seven years, total investment has grown more than twice as fast as consumption. The level of the United Kingdom's net overseas assets is the largest of all the major nations as a percentage of GDP and in 1986 and 1987 our invisibles surplus was the largest in the world.
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 696W bottom of the league in the previous two decades. Output per hour worked in the whole economy has also grown steadily so that by 1986 (the latest figure available), it was approaching the average for the Group of Seven and was 50 per cent. higher than that of Japan and only 5 per cent. below that of West Germany. Since 1981, the net rate of return on capital employed by British industry has nearly doubled. Excluding the North sea, the rise in profitability has been even greater. In 1987, non-North sea company profitability rose to over 10 per cent. its highest level since 1969, having risen every year since 1981.
Real take-home pay has risen substantially. For a married man on average earnings with two children, it has increased by about 30 per cent. between 1978–79 and 1988–89. Real personal disposable income is at a record level; in 1988 it was 5 per cent. higher than a year earlier. Pensioners have also shared in this growing prosperity. Their average real incomes rose by 23 per cent. between 1979 and 1986.
The Government have continued to maintain sound public finances. In 1988–89, the Government made a net repayment of public sector debt for the second consecutive year—the first time this has been achieved for forty years —saving over £1½ billion a year in interest payments. Including the £14 billion repayment budgeted for 1989–90, the Government will have repaid roughly a sixth of the total accumulated public debt in three years.
The Government have increased spending on priority programmes while reducing public expenditure as a proportion of GDP. In 1988–89, it was less than 40 per cent. of GDP for the first time in over 20 years. This has been made possible by continued improvements in efficiency in Government services, together with a rigorous reassessment of expenditure priorities.
The Government have made great advances since the introduction of the financial management initiative in 1982 towards the goal of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Civil Service. All Departments now have arrangements for delegating clear budgets and responsibilities down the management chain, and the flexible pay arrangements now in force in the Civil Service will enable Departments to make further improvements in the use of their human resources. The central instructions on personnel management in the Civil Service are being reviewed with a view to removing unnecessary controls on the discretion of managers in Departments wherever possible.
In 1988, the next steps initiative was launched. This involves setting up, to the greatest extent practicable, discrete management units to perform the executive functions of Government. These agencies will have clearer objectives, greater responsibility and the right tools for the job. The aim is greater value for money for the taxpayer, increased job satisfaction for staff and a better quality of service for the public. So far, five agencies have been established, and well over 30 candidates identified, covering about a third of the Civil Service and including virtually all the operational tasks of the Department of Social Security.
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 697W tax on earned income 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 in 1990.
Business taxation has been radically restructured, leaving the main United Kingdom corporation tax rate at 35 per cent., 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; the rates of tax on capital gains have been aligned with those on income and the taxation of purely inflationary capital gains has been ended. The taxation of life assurance will be reformed from 1990. Five major taxes and a number of unjustified tax breaks have been abolished.
Since 1979, the Government have privatised 19 major companies and a number of other enterprises. As a result of this policy and of tax reliefs designed to encourage shareholding, the number of individual shareholders in the United Kingdom, at one in five of the adult population, has trebled since 1979. Nearly 45 per cent. of the state-owned industrial sector which the Government inherited in 1979 has been returned to private enterprise. The privatisation programme is set to continue; legislation is proceeding for the privatisation of the electricity supply industry and the water industry in England and Wales, and the Government have already announced their intention to privatise British Coal in the next Parliament.
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, hire purchase and new issues, and restrictions on industrial and office development. Incentives have been increased by reductions in tax rates and by the reform of national insurance contributions. The state retirement pensioners' earnings rule will be abolished from October 1989.
Employment in the United Kingdom has risen by almost 3 million since March 1983, to the highest level ever. Unemployment throughout the United Kingdom has fallen over 33 consecutive months by over 1.25 million from its July 1986 peak, which is the longest and largest continuous fall since the second world war. The unemployment rate is now well below the European Community average. It has fallen in all regions of the country, with the biggest falls having occurred in the west midlands and Wales. The number of long-term unemployed (ie, those unemployed for more than a year) in the United Kingdom fell by a record half a million in the two years to January 1989. Unemployment among the under-25s has also been falling very sharply, and is now much lower than in most other European Community countries.
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. Between 1982 and 1984, about 1 million jobs were created by self employment and by firms employing fewer than 20 employees. Between 1980 and 1986, the number of small firms grew by around 500 per week. In 1987, this figure increased to nearly 900 per week. Self-employment has 698W increased by more than 50 per cent. since 1979 to 3 million as of June 1988. The number of self-employed women has more than doubled in the same period.
The Government's small firms service continues to provide professional advice and support to small firms. The enterprise allowance scheme has helped some 430,000 people in Great Britain to set up in business on their own. In addition, the Government have helped to create a network of 400 local enterprise agencies throughout the United Kingdom to encourage the development of small firms.
The employment service has continued to build on the opportunities for delivering practical and positive help to get unemployed people back to work. In the year to March 1989, the employment service placed 1.9 million people into jobs, of whom 1.5 million had been unemployed. In the same period, some 2.2 million personal interviews were carried out under restart, almost 90 per cent. of them resulting in an offer of positive help from the range of opportunities available, including job clubs and employment training. New client advisers have been introduced into all full-time unemployment benefit offices and offer positive help to the newly unemployed to get them back into jobs as quickly as possible. The employment service has continued to treat as a priority the need to ensure that benefits are properly paid to those who are entitled to them and not to others.
The Government have revolutionised vocational education and training for young people through the technical and vocational education initiative and two-year youth training scheme. TVEI is now a national scheme covering all education authorities. Over 2 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. All young people not going into a job or staying in full time education are guaranteed a place on YTS until their 18th birthday.
The Government have successfully introduced employment training, the major new programme for longer-term unemployed people. Over 180,000 people are already training on the programme after just eight months of the programme's operation. The Government have guaranteed the offer of a place on employment training or on the enterprise allowance scheme or in a job club to all those aged between 18 and 24 who have been unemployed for between six and 12 months and also aim to provide a place on employment training for those over 24 who have been unemployed for two years or more.
The Government launched a new service—known as business growth training—last month which will help companies to use training more effectively to improve their performance and their profits. The Government are setting up a network of training and enterprise councils. TECs will contract with Government to plan and deliver training and promote and support the development of small businesses and self-employment within their areas. A national training task force has been set up to assist the Secretary of State for Employment to develop the TECs and to promote greater investment by employers in the skills of the workforce.
Legislation has been passed to protect members against abuses of trade union power, to extend their rights to influence the affairs of their unions, and to restore the balance in industrial relations between managements and unions. In particular, secondary action and secondary 699W picketing have been made unlawful, all statutory support for the closed shop has been removed, and unions have been required to hold ballots before strike action.
The European Community's objective of completing the single market by the end of 1992 has the Government's strong support. Good progress has been made with around 275 single market measures agreed since 1985. To ensure that all businesses in every part of the country are fully prepared to take advantage of the opportunities the single market will bring, the Government launched a major campaign in 1988. As a result, over 90 per cent. of business men are now aware of the significance of 1992 and around 50 per cent. of British business is already taking action or considering steps to prepare for the single market.
The Government have launched the enterprise initiative, with the objective of helping business to acquire the skills and information they need to compete effectively. Since the launch of the initiative in January 1988, over 25,000 applications have been received by DTI for consultancy assistance, with demand spread throughout Britain.
The Government have also launched the export initiative which is aimed at improving the quality and delivery of export services through closer partnership with the private sector, with particular emphasis on helping small and medium-sized firms to obtain expert professional advice on exporting.
The balance of regional policy has been changed so that the Government's enterprise policies are properly reflected in the regions. The Government have encouraged greater competition throughout the economy.
The emphasis of the Government's financial support for industry has shifted to industrial innovation. Support has been 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. Thirteen LINK programmes have been announced.
The Financial Services Act 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 operation of the Act has been kept under review and the Government are taking steps to make further improvements in the self-regulatory regime following recent consultations.
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 court's powers to disqualify directors for misconduct; and made insider dealing a criminal offence.
The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, which will come into force later this year, provides a major and comprehensive reform of intellectual property rights. It takes into account the immense technological changes since the 1956 Copyright Act which it will supersede. It will introduce important new rights, such as design right, and provide the appropriate balance between the protection of intellectual property and the needs of those who use the products of creativity.
The Government have responded positively to new developments in radio technology by licensing companies to provide major new services such as cellular radio, which has accumulated over half a million subscribers in the last 700W four years. More recently, the Government have agreed to licence consortia to operate the telepoint public cordless telephone services.
The Government have continued to work to lift the burdens placed on business by regulations and bureaucracy. A third White Paper on deregulation, "Releasing Enterprise" which was published last year recorded some 120 further achievements in 1987–88 and made some 80 proposals for further action, which are being followed up.
The Government strongly supported the launch of the Uruguay round of multilateral trade negotiations, which took place in 1986 during the United Kingdom presidency. This year it contributed to the successful completion of the round's mid-term review.
The Government have stepped up their attack on urban decay and have given priority to ensuring that inner city residents benefit from growing national prosperity.
We have established 10 urban development corporations in England and one in Wales, which are succeeding in enlisting massive private sector resources in urban regeneration.
The "Action for Cities" initiative, launched in March 1988, brought together a wide range of Government programmes to improve the business environment, encourage further private sector involvement, and improve the quality of life in the inner cities.
The total Government commitment to the "Action for Cities" programmes, which in 1988–89 was around £3 billion, will reach nearly £3.5 billion in 1989–90. Developments since March 1988 include: meetings have been held for local business men and women in cities around the country to encourage them to become involved in regenerating their areas; 30 school-employer compacts are being set up and a further 10 are planned; 20 city technology colleges are being established; three new inner-city task forces have been announced; city grant has attracted over £100 million of private investment to inner city areas; 14 safer cities projects are being established; a broad range of help is being given to developing better sport, arts and leisure facilities and improving the inner city environment; and major improvements in the infrastructure are taking place.
Government policies on taxation and licensing helped to make 1988 the best year for drilling activities in the North sea since exploration began in 1964. The Government are holding the 11th offshore licensing round; 125 applications have been received, making this the second most successful round ever. The oil industry's response confirms the recovery of confidence in the United Kingdom continental shelf.
The Government's policies have also fostered the growth of the United Kingdom offshore supplies industry. In 1988, the total value of orders reported by operators for oil and gas development work was £2.5 billion, 35 per cent. up on 1987.
Productivity of deep mine coal production is now 85 per cent. higher than it was in 1978–79, and is up by 70 per cent. from 1984 levels. In the week ending 25 March 1989, national output per man shift rose to a new record of 4.62 tonnes.
The Government's renewable energy research programme has made substantial progress. In 1988, details of the research strategy up to the year 2000 were published in energy paper 55, and measures to encourage the development of renewable energy were included in the Bills for privatising the electricity supply and water industries.701W
Domestic gas now costs less in real terms than in 1970, while the price of electricity for domestic consumers has gone down by 12 per cent. in the last five years.
Since the publication of the White Paper "Privatising Electricity" in February 1988, the Government have introduced legislation to reorganise and privatise the electricity supply industry; it has published the licences by which the industry will be regulated; and it has developed plans for the flotation of the industry in England, Wales and Scotland. Substantial progress has been made in reorganising the industry and the Government intend that the new structure will be ready for vesting in the successor companies once Parliament approves the Electricity Bill.
Since 1979, productivity per person has increased by over 53 per cent. in agriculture and almost 38 per cent. in the food and drink manufacturing industry. Prices of food to consumers have risen more slowly than the general price level. Exports of food, feed and alcoholic beverages have almost doubled since 1979.
Reform of the common agricultural policy, to tackle the problems of burgeoning expenditure and surplus production, was significantly advanced by the agreement at the European Council in February 1988 on the application of budgetary discipline to the CAP, notably through the introduction of a legally binding ceiling on CAP market support expenditure, and the introduction or extension of stabilisers in CAP commodity regimes. Stabilisers, which link full levels of support to predetermined quantities of production, and provide for reductions in support if those quantities are exceeded, are intended to act as a disincentive to surplus production and thus to help bring supply and demand into better balance. In 1988–89, stabilisers were triggered in many sectors and are resulting in significant price cuts. The process of CAP reform was pursued in the price fixing settlements in 1988 and 1989, when common prices were generally frozen and intervention was made less attractive. In January 1989, the beef regime was reformed.
The Government have taken many steps to safeguard the position of United Kingdom farmers. Significant green pound devaluations, which considerably improve the competitiveness of United Kingdom agriculture, and which are agreed steps towards the completion of the internal market, were agreed at each of the last two price settlements. The suckler cow premium and expenditure on hill livestock compensatory allowances have been increased.
The Government have introduced further schemes designed to achieve a better balance between agricultural production and the environment, to aid farm diversification and alternative land use, and to encourage farming practices that are beneficial to the landscape and to the conservation of wildlife.
The set-aside theme, introduced in 1988, provides incentives for the reduction of surplus arable production, while keeping the land which has been set aside in good heart.
The farm woodland scheme is designed to encourage the planting of trees on land previously in agricultural production.
We have established 19 environmentally sensitive areas in the United Kingdom, where payments are made to encourage environmentally beneficial agricultural practices.
Since 1979, a considerable shift in the focus of capital grants has taken place; they are now concentrated more on 702W investments which prevent pollution by farm operations and which help to conserve the landscape and to protect its flora and fauna. The farm and conservation grant scheme, introduced in February 1989, offers grants of 50 per cent for effluent facilities and also grants for a wide range of conservation activities.
The sale, supply and use of pesticides has been brought under statutory control to ensure use in relation to operators, consumers and the environment.
The Government have continued to take action where necessary under the Food Act to safeguard the nation's food supply on the best scientific advice available.
We operate a comprehensive food monitoring and investigative system under the auspicies of the steering group on food surveillance. We have also set up a committee under the chairmanship of Sir Mark Richmond to make recommendations on the microbiological safety of food.
In order to ensure that our legislation can meet the challenge of modern food technology, the Government have also engaged in extensive consultation with industry, enforcement and consumer interests as part of a review of existing food legislation, with a view to legislating as soon as the parliamentary timetable permits.
The United Kingdom has played a full part in negotiating the directives which form part of the Community's single market programme for harmonising food law. These will remove barriers to trade and benefit both consumers and industry.
In 1979 we set up the Farm Animal Welfare Council which has given us independent and authoritative advice. We have banned veal crates and various mutilations; introduced new legislation on battery hens and on poultry transport and slaughter; and produced on-farm codes for all the major species.
After protracted and difficult negotiations, the Government secured a European Community 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.
Controls to ensure the protection of the marine environment have been strengthened, and substantial reductions have been achieved in the levels of contaminants in material licensed for disposal at sea.
In the field of transport, the Government have pursued policies designed to ensure that Britain's growing transport needs are met safely, efficiently and with proper respect for the environment.
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 transferring them to companies and banned the noisiest aircraft from operating at British airports. The Government have taken steps, domestically and internationally, to intensify aviation security and to increase air traffic control capacity. The Government have strengthened competition on international air routes by negotiating more liberal bilateral arrangements. The Government have secured agreement to packages of 703W liberalisation measures for aviation, shipping and road haulage within the European Community as a first step towards the completion of the internal transport market.
Local bus services outside London have been deregulated. This has resulted in greater competition between operators, the introduction of new types of bus services, and lower costs and subsidies, as well as an increase in the overall provision of bus mileage. The privatisation of the National Bus Company was completed well ahead of schedule, and about half of its subsidiaries were bought by their own managers or employees.
British Rail has been given objectives for improving the quality of its services and for increasing its efficiency through reduced subsidy. In 1987–88, passenger revenue was at the highest level since nationalisation, and British Rail expanded its ambitious investment programme to secure improved services, whilst achieving their target for reduction of public subsidy. The Government have commissioned studies of the requirement for new railway lines in London and have backed a major programme of investment by London Underground, including £700 million to upgrade the Central line and £266 million to implement new safety measures in the wake of the King's Cross fire.
The Government have involved the private sector in the funding of transport projects, for example the Channel tunnel and the Dartford-Thurrock bridge. A recently published Green Paper seeks views on the Government's proposals to facilitate private sector investment in new roads.
The Government have taken measures to encourage the employment of British seafarers aboard British ships. Numerous measures have also been taken to improve ferry safety following the Zeebrugge disaster. The Government have privatised the British Transport Docks Board and have reformed the marine pilotage system.
In England, capital investment in trunk roads has increased by 60 per cent. in real terms since 1979. Some 900 miles of new and improved motorways and other trunk roads have been completed, including 98 new bypasses. The Government have carried out a major review of Britain's trunk road and motorway requirements and have published a White Paper providing for an increase from £5 billion to £12 billion in expenditure on the roads programme. The Government are supporting 360 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 the United Kingdom the best overall road accident record in the European Community. In 1988, deaths on Britain's roads were the lowest since 1954, despite a fourfold increase in traffic in the same period. The aim is to reduce casualties by one third by the year 2000.
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 33 per cent. in real terms from £16.4 billion in 1978–79 to a planned £51.3 billion, almost £1 billion a week, in 1989–90. Between 1978–79 and 1988–89, spending on long-term sick and disabled people has increased by about £3.5 billion in real terms, a real increase of 90 per cent.; total expenditure on benefits for the elderly has gone up by 24 per cent. in real terms; and the real value of family support has risen by 27 per cent. from £6.7 billion to £8.5 billion.704W
Social security is a major service industry. The Government have long been concerned to improve the quality of service. The reform of social security benefits has contributed to this process by introducing a structure of benefits which is easier to understand and to administer. Our massive computerisation programme will deliver benefits more accurately and more quickly. The relocation of some "backroom" work from some London offices will relieve the pressure on those offices and improve the speed and quality of service to the public in London. Plans have been announced for the running of social security operations as an executive agency or agencies, and for a definition of service. In addition, work is considerably advanced on other initiatives including improved training for staff, in-house style for our premises and a revised management structure which gives local managers greater authority to respond flexibly to the needs of their own local public.
The Government's restructured system of income-related benefits was implemented in 1988 and has enabled us to pursue our policy of targeting help more effectively on those groups most in need. Many low-income families have gained from the introduction of income support, which has proved to be simpler—both to understand and administer—than its predecessor, supplementary benefit. Since its introduction, the Government have been able to use the social fund to provide effective and flexible help, with over 150,000 community care grants to vulnerable people and nearly 900,000 interest-free loans with a combined total expenditure of £166 million in the first year.
A quarter of a million families are now receiving family credit—the benefit for people in work—with average payments of £25 a week. In the first 12 months alone, spending on family credit was about £400 million, which is twice the amount spent on its predecessor, family income supplement. The simpler housing benefit scheme operates more fairly and treats people alike whether in work or not.
This year the Government added an extra 50p a week to the child allowances in income support, family credit and housing benefit adding a further £70 million to expenditure over and above the prices uprating in April. This ensured that families receiving these benefits saw a substantial increase in real terms which they would not have experienced had this money been channelled into child benefit. Child benefit goes to all families regardless of income and any increase in it does not benefit families on income support and family credit, as it is offset in their income-related benefit. From this April, the Government are therefore directing about £200 million extra to the greater benefit of some 3 million children in low income families. From October this year, employees' national insurance contributions will be reformed, and the main disincentive effects of the current system will be removed.
The Government's economic success has enabled pensioners' average incomes to grow by 23 per cent. in real terms over the period 1979 to 1986, and the Government have met their pledge to maintain the real value of the state retirement pension, which is now being paid to one million more pensioners than in 1979, at a cost of over £20 billion this year. The Government have also announced that, from October this year, just under £200 million extra has been set aside for poorer pensioners, through the income support and housing benefit schemes. In all, about 2.6 million pensioners are expected to benefit from this increased expenditure. The abolition of the earnings rule 705W for pensioners from 1 October 1989 will give more choice and flexibility for older people who want to carry on working.
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. 1988 saw significant changes in the arrangements for pensions: from April 1988, contracting-out of SERPs was made easier and July saw the introduction of the new choice of personal pensions. More than 2 million people have already taken advantage of this opportunity to plan for their retirement by applying for a personal pension.
In England spending on the Health Service is up by 40 per cent. in real terms, from £6.5 billion in 1978–79 to £21.1 billion now. There are over 12,400 more doctors and dentists and over 53,000 more nurses and midwives. Capital spending has increased from £373 million to more than £1.2 billion. Some 300 health building schemes, each worth over £1 million have been started and completed and 500 further schemes are at various stages of planning, design and construction with 140 due to be completed in the next three years. Over 1.25 million more in-patient cases are now being dealt with each year, making a total of more tham 6.5 million.
General managers throughout the Health Service are providing energetic and innovative leadership through speedier and more incisive decision making. Health authorities are continuing to improve efficiency and their cost improvement programmes have yielded savings worth over £700 million in the past five years. New cost improvements in 1989–90 are expected to yield around a further £150 million.
The Government have set up an independent review body to recommend on nurses' pay. All six of the review body's reports, including the 1989 report, have been implemented, since 1979, nurses will have received on average a 44 per cent. real term increase in their pay.
A number of initiatives have been taken to improve the health and wellbeing of the population. We are the world leaders in introducing a breast cancer screening service and the first country within the European Community to have a comprehensive cervical cancer screening service based on computerised call and recall. Considerable progress has been made on improving the uptake of childhood immunisation and last October, the mumps, measles and rubella programme was announced which marks the most significant change in immunisation policy in the past 20 years. 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 prevent and contain the spread of the virus.
Waiting lists are now some 8 per cent. lower than in 1979. Districts with waiting list problems have been targeted with Government funding of £86 million in England to tackle waiting list black spots. This funding will allow treatment of some 300,000 more in-patients and day patients and 200,000 out-patients by the end of the current financial year.
In social services, there have been increases in places in training centres and community homes for mentally 706W handicapped people. There are more home help staff, more social work staff, more places in day centres for elderly people, and more places in residential and nursing homes.
The White Paper "Working For Patients" set out proposals for the most far reaching changes in the history of the NHS. The aim is to build on its record of achievement to provide even better service for patients and to raise the performance of all hospitals and GP practices to that of the best. This will be achieved through the introduction of measures designed to delegate responsibility and to promote patient choice.
The Government have secured the agreement of the profession's negotiators on the basis for a contract for GPs. This new contract will introduce health promotion and illness prevention as major objectives of service provision and will relate GP's pay more closely to their performances.
Since 1979, substantial progress has been made in reforming the structure and financial basis of local authorities to make them more accountable and responsive 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 now legislating to implement many of the key recommendations. 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 Act 1988 makes provision for the abolition of domestic rates in England and Wales and their replacement by a fairer and more broadly based community charge from 1 April 1990. The same Act 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 65 per cent. of all dwellings are owner-occupied. There has been a net increase in the stock as a whole of about 1.8 million, more than enough to keep pace with the growth in the number of households over the period.
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 707W progress has been made. Measures have been introduced to strengthen the rights of leaseholders living in private blocks of flats.
The Housing Act 1988 aims to broaden the choice open to tenants and to encourage more private investment in housing in England and Wales; it deregulates rents in the independent rented sector; provides the basis for an expansion of the housing association movement; allows for the establishment of housing action trusts in some of the most rundown areas of local authority housing; and provides all secure local authority tenants with the opportunity to transfer to new landlords approved by the Housing Corporation.
The Local Government and Housing Bill now before Parliament maintains this progress: it introduces a new capital finance system permitting allocations to local authorities to be better tailored to need, a new housing subsidy system designed to impose better financial discipline, and provisions for targeting renovation grants on housing most in need of improvement and people most in need of assistance.
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., and a reduction in duty has made unleaded petrol some 10p a gallon cheaper than leaded four-star. Unleaded petrol is now available at over 7,700 sites, and use of the fuel doubled last month to 14 per cent. Following the successful London conference on the protection of the ozone layer, the signatories of the Montreal protocol to the Vienna convention have agreed to phase out the production and consumption of the CFCs controlled by the protocol as soon as possible, and not later than 2000.
The Government have taken steps to reduce the pollution of our rivers, estuaries and beaches. The Water Bill now before Parliament will establish a National Rivers Authority, strengthen the legal framework for ensuring water quality standards and establish a system of price regulation and consumer protection for the water industry. In 1987, 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. We are applying the measures agreed to all our seas.
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 have been notified or renotified as part of the implementation of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981; this process is now 85 per cent complete. In addition, 33 special protection areas have been designated throughout the United Kingdom under the European birds directive, and 40 wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar convention.
The Government have been active in improving the care and management of our national heritage. We have established two powerful new forces for conservation—the National Heritage Memorial Fund in 1980 and the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission (English Heritage) in 1984. A major resurvey of listed buildings in England is virtually complete.
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 708W environment in town and country. The area of approved green belt in England has more then doubled since 1979; the annual acreage of agricultural land taken for development in England and Wales in 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.
After a period of stagnation, the construction industry has enjoyed a seven year period of sustained growth. In 1988, output—at £40 billion in cash terms—was its highest ever.
The Government have maintained central support for arts activities, and have introduced a number of measures to encourage greater self-reliance among arts institutions. There has been a significant upsurge in business sponsorship—the Government's business sponsorship incentive scheme has brought nearly £25 million of new money into the arts in five 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 national museums and galleries, including the Clore gallery at the Tate, the new Tate gallery in Liverpool, the national gallery's Sainsbury wing, the theatre museum at the V and A, and the redevelopment of the imperial war museum.
The Government have continued their policies to improve all aspects of the education system in England and Wales; a new 16-plus examination system, the GCSE, has been introduced, as have the new AS-levels which will broaden studies for 16 to 18-year-olds. The technical and vocational education initiative is augmenting practical elements in the 14 to 18 curriculum. In higher education, record numbers of students were admitted last year and plans are being taken forward to continue the shift towards science and engineering and other key subjects for our continuing economic success. The Education Reform Act 1988 sets a new course for the future. The national curriculum is being introduced from this September; assessment and testing are being taken forward; more open enrolment and new types of school will widen the choice of schools open to parents; local management of schools and colleges is being introduced; the new polytechnic and colleges sector of high education has been established; university funding arrangements have been reformed.
The Government have increased support to the science base in response to the recommendations from the Advisory Board for the Research Councils. There has been a parallel withdrawal of funds from 'near-market" research, which is judged to be properly the responsibility of industry.
Since May 1979, the Government have increased the number of police officers in England and Wales by nearly 14,000 to over 125,000 and the number of civilians supporting the police by about 8,000 to over 42,500. Expenditure has been increased by about 55 per cent. in real terms over the same period, and the Government continue to work closely with the service to ensure that these resources are used to the best possible effect. The powers of the police to deal with public disorder have been strengthened. Over 66,000 neighbourhood watch schemes are now in operation in Great Britain. Fourteen cities are involved in the safer cities programme to reduce crime and the fear of crime. The new national crime prevention programme organisation Crime Concern has been 709W established and is working with the police, other public agencies and private business to develop and encourage crime prevention activity. An independent Crown prosecution service is now in operation throughout England and Wales. Twenty-four senior and 34 junior attendance centres have been opened.
The largest prison building programme this century is under way. Out of a total of 28 new prisons planned for England and Wales, eight are already open and the remainder are at various stages of planning and construction. A major programme of refurbishment and modernisation is in progress. New staff working practices have been introduced. The number of uniformed prison officers in England and Wales has been increased by 45 per cent. and the ratio of staff to inmates improved.
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 national drugs intelligence unit has been created and strengthened. Seventeen drugs wings, with an additional 229 officers to man them, have been added to the regional crime squads in England and Wales to target major drug traffickers. 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 to make other improvements in the investigation, prosecution and trial of fraud offences; 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; to improve controls on the 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 law; 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; to strengthen the jury system; to reform the law on official secrets by replacing section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911 with provisions protecting just six classes of official information; to make provision for the interception of communications, sent by means of post or by means of public telecommunications systems, with the appointment of a commissioner and provision for complaints to an independent tribunal; and to put the Security Service on a statutory basis with the appointment of a commissioner and provision for complaints to an independent tribunal.710W
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. We continue our policy of fair but firm immigration control. The Immigration Act 1988 corrected a number of weaknesses in the existing legislation.
Proposals for new broadcasting legislation designed to promote greater choice and competition without detriment to programme standards and quality have recently been published in the White Paper "Broadcasting in the 1990s".
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 introduced the Children Bill which provides a single, coherent code covering the care and upbringing of children. It will enable steps to be taken towards a single integrated jurisdiction over all types of children's cases and will facilitate procedural reforms.
The Government have embarked on a programme of reforms in the administration of civil justice in England and Wales which will improve access to justice for the public by speeding up, simplifying and reducing the cost of civil proceedings.
The Legal Aid Act 1988 established a board to administer the legal aid scheme and to ensure that it operates as efficiently and effectively as possible. The Legal Aid Board assumed these functions on 1 April 1989.
The Government have simplified conveyancing, extended the areas in which titles have to be registered, and have continued the major programme of the simplification and consolidation of our statute law.
A substantial increase in resources has enabled the capability of the armed forces to be strengthened. The Government played their 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 intermediate-range nuclear forces 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.
The Government have maintained Britain's firm commitment to national defence and the NATO Alliance. At the same time, the Government have worked determinedly for a more stable security relationship between East and West, seeking verifiable reductions in nuclear and conventional weapons and a global ban on chemical weapons. The Government have been active in building up, and setting priorities for, an East-West dialogue on arms control.
The Government played a leading role in the Stockholm conference on European arms control which was successfully concluded in September 1986, and give full support to our United States allies in their successful negotiations with the USSR over INF. British Ministers and representatives have placed an active part in the preparation and conduct of the two sets of talks recently started in Vienna.711W
The Government have worked consistently to strengthen the Western European Union as part of their effort to promote closer European defence co-operation. Britain presided over the accession to the organisation last year of Spain and Portugal.
The Government have also consistently sought greater East-West co-operation in the settlement of regional conflicts. They maintained steady pressure for the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan. They are now pursuing an active dialogue with the Soviet Union on other regional issues.
The Government have worked vigorously to ensure that human rights are fully respected in Eastern Europe. The Government played an active part in the successful conclusion to the Vienna meeting of the conference on security and co-operation in Europe, which closed in January with substantive new agreements on human rights. The Government have also encouraged steps towards economic and political reform in the eastern countries.
Within the European Community, the Government reached agreement at Fontainebleu in 1984 that the United Kingdom should pay a fairer share of the EC budget. In the United Kingdom presidency of 1986, and at the Brussels European Council in February 1988, the Government secured major reforms of the common agricultural policy, including a binding ceiling on agricultural spending and an automatic cost-cutting regime for all commodities.
The Government have helped to establish the completion of the single European market by 1992 as the Community's top priority. They have worked consistently to ensure that this market will be as free as possible from internal barriers and regulation and will be open to the outside world, in order to encourage competition, enterprise and efficiency and to increase commercial opportunities for British industry. The Government have championed liberalising measures in Europe, such as freer movement consistent with national security; mutual recognition of professional qualifications; abolition of exchange controls; and cheaper air fares. In the GATT and other international economic forums, the Government have worked to strengthen the open world economic system, including through the current Uruguay round.
The Government supported the entry of Greece, Spain and Portugal into the Community, in order to strengthen their democracy and prosperity, and to reinforce NATO. The Government have actively promoted close EC political co-operation, including the initiative for the provisions in the Single European Act, which put this co-operation on a treaty basis for the first time.
Rhodesia was brought to legal independence as the Republic of Zimbawe in 1980. The Government resolutely upheld and continue to defend the right of the Falkland 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 with its implementation. The Gibraltar border has been reopened and the Government have established a negotiating framework with Spain aimed at overcoming differences over the rock.
The Government have maintained their commitment to the Commonwealth. With our Commonwealth and European partners, the Government have worked towards ending apartheid in South Africa by peaceful means. We 712W have extended significant assistance to black communities within South Africa. The Government have also worked to strengthen the security and stability of South Africa's neighbours through the provision of substantial development assistance and military training.
At the United Nations and elsewhere, the Government have supported the rule of international law, peaceful settlement of disputes, and respect for human rights. Through the Armilla patrol, Britain has fulfilled its long-standing commitment to protect merchant shipping in the Gulf. As one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Britain made a significant contribution to the initiation and adoption of Resolution 598 on the Iran/Iraq conflict and the subsequent ceasefire last year. The Government have been active in developing closer co-operation between the Five on this and other issues, such as Namibia. The Government have supported the successful United States-led negotiations on Namibia's future; and the role of the United Nations in bringing the territory peacefully to independence. The Government have also worked for financial and administrative reform in the United Nations.
The Government 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. The Government have also been in the forefront of international efforts to protect the environment. With the United Nations environment programme, the Government organised the recent London international conference on saving the ozone layer.
The Government have maintained a substantial and effective aid programme, totalling over £12.5 billion in the period 1979–88. 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. The Government have responded swifly and generously to appeals for emergency aid to sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere and have taken the lead in promoting measures to relieve sub-Saharan African countries of their official debts.
The White Paper "Scottish Enterprise" put forward proposals to integrate the functions of the Scottish Development Agency and the Training Agency into a single body, Scottish Enterprise, and to provide training and to promote enterprise through a network of employer-led local agencies responding directly to local needs.
Unemployment in Scotland has fallen in 24 of the past 25 months and by 90,000 since January 1987. Manufacturing productivity in Scotland increased by 5.4 per cent. per annum between 1979 and 1989. Between June 1983 and June 1988 the civilian workforce in employment increased by 106,000; and in 1988 alone the increase was 66,000. The number of self-employed increased by 66,000 between June 1981 and June 1988, compared with virtually no change in the three decades to 1981.
In 1988, there was a net growth of over 3,400 in company registrations in Scotland. Between 1 January 1980 and 1 January 1988, the number of companies registered in Scotland increased by some 20,000, or by over a half. Between 1979 and 1989, the output of the Scottish electronics industry increased by a factor of 3.7.
Inward investment planned by companies since the inception of the Government's Locate in Scotland 713W programme totals some £3 billion and is associated with the intended creation or safeguarding of 60,000 jobs; the final employment outcome is, on past experience, likely to be about two thirds of the planned level.
Expenditure by the Highlands and Islands Development Board in 1988–89 was £42 million, 5.5 per cent. higher in real terms than in 1979–80. The success of the Highlands and Islands Development Board is indicated by an estimated 1 per cent. increase in the area's population since 1981. The Government have successfully maintained the area's eligibility for support from European Community structured funds and have obtained agreement to a programme of European Community support of £73 million to assist development of the area's infrastructure.
1988–89 saw the largest ever single project in a Scottish new town come on stream, with investment of over £200 million by Kymmene Stromberg in the new Caledonian paper mill in Irvine. Take-up of industrial space in all five towns was at an all-time high and private sector investment in both industry and housing continued to rise to record new levels.
Owner-occupation among Scots has increased significantly, from 35 per cent. to over 44 per cent. A major contribution to this increase has been the 150,000 tenants who have bought their homes from the public sector landlord under the right to buy legislation introduced in 1980, or through voluntary sales. The Housing (Scotland) Act 1988 introduced a statutory right for public sector tenants to transfer to new landlords approved by Scottish Homes.
The Housing (Scotland) Act 1988 has established a new housing development agency, Scottish Homes. The new agency will play a key role in revitalising Scotland's housing and will promote freedom of choice for tenants. 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.
The Government have achieved their objective, on the timetable they originally set, of abolishing domestic rates in Scotland with effect from 1 April this year, and replacing them with a new community charge.
Measures have been taken to speed up the town and country planning system in Scotland to allow the establishment of simplified planning zones and to meet the particular planning requirements of high technology industries, small businesses, private house builders and major retail development. The protection of the landscape and wildlife habitats has been strengthened. 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 to 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. We have also introduced legislation to privatise the Scottish Bus Group. Since 1979, over £800 million has been invested in motorways and trunk roads in Scotland. Thirty bypasses, relieving communities of through traffic, have been opened.714W
Major reforms have been introduced to the education system in Scotland. The Education (Scotland) Act 1981 gave parents the right to choose their children's school, and since then over 140,000 placing requests have been made, with over 93 per cent. of them being successful. That Act also introduced the assisted places scheme to widen educational opportunity and parental choice; 2,660 children benefited from the scheme in 1988–89, and it is now being extended to assist up to 3,000 pupils. The School Boards (Scotland) Act 1988 gave parents in Scotland the opportunity for the first time to become involved in running their children's schools. By the end of October this year, each school in Scotland will have its own board, with a majority of parent members.
The school examination system is being modernised, with the introduction of standard grade and the associated revision of the post-16 examinations. The technical and vocational education initiative is being extended throughout Scotland. Measures are being taken to revise the school curriculum for ages 5–14, to improve the assessment of pupils, including nationally standardised testing in key elements of English and mathematics at ages eight and 12, and to better inform parents of their children's progress. The Self-Governing Schools, etc. (Scotland) Bill, now before Parliament, will enable parents in Scotland to seek self-governing status for schools outside local authority control, and so will expand the educational choice available and improve the standards of educational provision for all. The Bill also provides for the establishment of technology academies, with private sector sponsorship.
The participation rates of young people in higher education has reached the highest ever levels. Radical changes in further education have increased the take-up of vocational training at all levels. The grant-aided higher education colleges have been reconstituted to give them greater freedom and incentives to earn external income and to increase student numbers. The Government-backed Scottish wider access programme has been launched to encourage collaboration between educational institutions to widen access to higher education, and provision has been made for a statutory Scottish committee of the Universities Funding Council.
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 in Scotland. 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 60 major hospital developments have been completed in Scotland, providing 6,747 beds and 521 day places. A further 31 schemes are in planning, under construction or being commissioned which will provide a further 3,452 beds. In addition to the public education campaigns on AIDS, the Government have this year made over £12 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 715W 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.
Since 1987, £13 million has been allocated to health boards in Scotland for special action to reduce the number of people waiting for treatment and the time they have to wait. In the 18 months to September 1988, the number of people on waiting lists in Scotland fell by around 10 per cent.
With the publication in November 1988 of the SHARPEN report (Scottish health authorities review of priorities for the eighties and nineties) and the booklet "The Scottish Health Service", priorities have been set for the Health Service in Scotland which emphasise the care of the elderly with mental disability; community care of the mentally ill, the mentally handicapped and the elderly; preventive medicine and the younger physically disabled.
Competitive tendering of ancillary services in the NHS in Scotland is expected to release £25 million over the next three to four years from the contracts so far awarded. These savings will be reinvested in direct patient care.
The health capital budget in Scotland is up by one third this year alone, and a substantial part of this increase is due to the incentive which allows health boards to keep all the proceeds of the sale of redundant buildings and land. This year, hospital building will benefit by £25 million from these receipts, more than three times the estimate made before the incentive was introduced. This money will be ploughed back into the Health Service to provide buildings and equipment for patient care.
Special assistance is being made available to farmers in the north of Scotland to help restore floodbanks damaged in the exceptional floods earlier this year.
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 the other Scottish islands which started in 1988. This programme provides £38 million to increase the efficiency of agricultural businesses without adding to overall agricultural production.
Five environmentally sensitive areas 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 introduced two new grant schemes—the woodland grant scheme and the farm woodland scheme—in 1988.
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 in 1988 and the first phase of a new building for the national library of Scotland in Edinburgh will be opened later this year; the second phase will be completed in 1994.
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 £0.85 million in the current 716W 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 toll of death and suffering.
The Government have continued to implement the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and have used its machinery further to improve security co-operation.
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 over 75,000 jobs, while the youth training programme has provided opportunities for an estimated 84,300 entrants with some 32,000 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. Legislation has been introduced 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.
In July 1988, the Government launched the "making Belfast work" programme designed to address the social, economic and environmental issues in the most disadvantaged area of Belfast. In addition to substantial mainstream programmes, a further £65 million has been made available in the period 1988–89 to 1991–92.
Proposals have been developed, with a view to early implementation, for the reform of the educational system to improve educational standards and for the provision of new opportunities and incentives for existing schools seeking to promote integrated education.
Substantial programmes have been maintained in Northern Ireland for agriculture, health and personal social services, environmental services and social security.
Since the establishment of WlNvest in 1983, Wales has secured some 290 inward investment projects from overseas companies promising some 36,000 new or safeguarded jobs and involving almost £2 billion of capital investment. Notable successes include Ford's £700 million investment at Bridgend and Swansea and Bosch's £100 million project at Miskin.
Wales, with 5 per cent. of the United Kingdom's population, achieved, in terms of related new jobs, 20 per cent. of all inward investment into the United Kingdom in 1987 and 22 per cent. in 1988. This compares with 6 per cent. in 1979.
Since 1979, the Government have committed nearly £250 million—at today's prices—to the land reclamation programme in Wales, one of the largest and most 717W sustained programmes in Europe, and the Welsh Development Agency has constructed over 11.5 million sq ft of factory space, with a job potential of about 35,000.
The success of the Development Board for Rural Wales is indicated by an estimated 4.5 per cent. increase in the population of the area covered by the Board between 1979 and 1987.
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 24. Such agencies have had £9.7 million of central Government assistance and they estimate that they have helped to create over 20,000 jobs.
Seasonally adjusted unemployment in Wales has fallen in each of the last 34 consecutive months to a total in April 1989 of 105,000—a fall of 66,900 or 5.3 percentage points from 14.1 per cent. to 8.8 per cent.
The number of self-employed in Wales is currently 148,000—a substantial increase on the 1981 figure.
Since their introduction in 1982, urban development grants of around £37 million have been awarded to 75 projects throughout Wales. These will bring forward a total private sector investment of nearly £173 million. The scheme has now been superseded by a simplified grant mechanism, urban investment grant, which was introduced on 1 April 1989. To date, 180 inquiries have been received and grants of just over £1 million have been awarded on two projects.
As part of the Government's policy for inner cities, the Cardiff Bay development corporation was established in 1987 to regenerate the urban areas of south Cardiff. The corporation has produced a comprehensive regeneration strategy for its area; acquired some 300 acres of land; completed site investigations for major land reclamation schemes; and completed several environmental and community projects. In 1989–90, some £22 million will be made available to the corporation.
In June 1988, the Government launched a three-year programme of action designed to improve economic, environmental and social conditions in the south Wales valleys. Expenditure on key activities involving the promotion of investment, the creation of jobs and environmental improvement in the valleys is expected to total some £500 million over the life of the programme, and to help stimulate private sector investment of around £1 billion. In the first seven months of the programme unemployment in the valleys has fallen faster than elsewhere in Wales, by over 5,000 since the programme was launched. Factory lettings by the Welsh Development Agency in the valleys have been at record levels since the valleys programme was announced, running at two new lettings a week in the first nine month of 1988–89.
The WDA has made great progress in its factory building programme—some 492,500 sq ft of factory space was started in 1988–89, against a target of 450,000 sq ft. The WDA's derelict land clearance programme is well under way and will lead to the clearance of some 2,500 acres over the life of the valleys programme. 3Is (Investors in Industry) now expects to provide over £5 million of venture capital for valleys investments in 1988–89 compared with the earlier forecast of £2.5 million. Welsh Office offers of regional selective assistance and regional development grant made up to the middle of January 1989 718W have covered projects involving 7,500 new jobs and private investment of £180 million. 21 projects have been supported by the Welsh Development Agency under its valleys small loan scheme.
In addition, the valleys enterprise loan scheme has funded 26 projects at a total cost of £315,500, and the community enterprise scheme has funded 11 projects amounting to £70,000.
Urban programme allocations totalling nearly £18 million for 1989–90 have been directed to the valleys area —over 65 per cent. more than in 1987–88, the year before the valleys programme was launched. The Wales tourist board has launched the first phase of a major new marketing campaign designed to attract more visitors to the valleys. Health services in the valleys have received support, with two new health centres at Blaengwynfi and Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen. Ten more valleys health projects will be funded in 1989–90.
Owner-occupation has increased from 59 per cent. of housing stock in 1979 to 69 per cent. Almost 71,000 public sector dwellings have been sold to their tenants under the right to buy and voluntary terms since 1980, and over 57,000 new homes have been built for sale. Since 1979, over 15,000 dwellings have been provided by housing associations for sale or rent to help people in housing need. Housing for Wales (Tai Cymru) was set up under the Housing Act 1988. Between 1979 and 1986, the proportion of Welsh households lacking basic amenities more than halved and this progress has been continued over the last three years. Over 162,000 home improvement grant schemes for private sector dwellings have been completed since July 1979, with a value of £479 million. In the same period, £446 million has been spent on the renovation of local authority housing stock. Since 1982, over 8,300 dwellings have been improved under enveloping schemes.
Expenditure on the health services in Wales has risen by almost 45 per cent. after allowing for general inflation between 1978–79 and 1989–90. Nearly £700 million at current prices will have been invested in the capital estate of the hospital and community health services in the period April 1979 to March 1990: five major hospitals have been completed with a sixth due for completion before the end of this year. The number of staff directly concerned with patient care has increased by over 21 per cent. since 1979, and 28 per cent. more in-patients and 21 per cent. more out-patients were treated in 1987 than in 1979.
Current expenditure on education in Wales, excluding school meals and milk, was provisionally 10.9 per cent. higher in real terms in 1987–89 than in 1978–79. Pupil numbers dropped by 16.1 per cent. in the same period; and expenditure per nursery/primary pupil rose by over 27 per cent. from £792 to £1,004, anti per secondary pupil by over 36 per cent., from £1,090 to £1,488, their best ever levels. The number of students on courses of advanced further education in the public sector rose from 9,000 in 1979–80 to 14,500 in 1987–88, an increase of 61 per cent.
Since 1979, almost £900 million has been spent on providing some 140 miles of motorway and trunk roads in Wales. In addition over £240 million has been spent on structural renewal and on general maintenance. The road programmes for the 1990s have been set out in the new edition of "Roads in Wales" published on 10 April 1989. Since 1979–80, overall net resources to the WTB have increased by 185 per cent., including an increase of 135 per cent. in support of projects creating almost 4,000 jobs.719W
The Government's direct financial support for the Welsh language has increased annually from £0.2 million in 1979–80 to around £4.6 million in 1989–90. 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. In July 1988, the Government established the Welsh Language Board to advise on all matters relating to the use of Welsh in the public and private sector. A major expansion scheme at the national museum of Wales is in progress.