Thank you Jon and WZZZ; your help is much appreciated. but unfortunately I am still not having any joy. I followed all the steps but now the popup is just blank instead of showing the inactive plug-in message. I didn't realise how pandemic the problem was until I read this http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/02/01/apple_blocks_java_mac/. Anyway, I thank you all again for your time but I think I am going to knock this one on the head and stick my day job which is supporting Windows.
A quick google search for Java for Mac OS X 10.6, reveals that the earliest on Apple's site is Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 6, which contains 1.6.0_29; however, the site's broken (or Apple's decided not to provide anything earlier to users), since clicking on it's link takes you to update 11.
JavaForMacOSX10.6Update5 is available via http://supportdownload.apple.com/download.info.apple.com/Apple_Support_Area/Appl e_Software_Updates/Mac_OS_X/downloads/041-0592.20110628.BF4ee/JavaForMacOSX10.6U pdate5.dmg but I don't know which version it contains. FWIW, you can also get update 4 and 5 at http://www.cs.wits.ac.za/~scott/apple/Apple-07-25/. Good luck.
Java 7 updated for 10.7-10.8
Released Feb 1, 2013, fixes 50+ security flaws
Download and install
For Java versions 6 and below OS X 10.5-10.6 machines
Apple supplies their own version of Java. For Mac OS X 10.6 and below, use the Software Update feature available under the Apple menu to check that you have the most up-to-date version of Java 6 for your Mac.
Java SE 6 End of Public Updates
After February 2013, Oracle will no longer post updates of Java SE 6 to its public download sites. We highly recommend downloading and installing Java 7.
If your considering upgrading OS X from 10.6.8 to 10.8 via AppStore to run Java 7
Be forewarned no PowerPC based programs or driver software will run any longer.
Check here BEFORE you upgrade OS X!
Alternatives if you must run Java 7
If Apple disabled Java 6 in 10.6, and you can't upgrade OS X to 10.8, then your pretty much done with Java in OS X because Oracle won't issue updates for Java 6 anymore.
However you can install Windows 7 and continue to use Java 7+ there until support for Windows 7 ends in 2020.
If your on 10.6, I very highly recommend the free Virtualbox for the virtual machine software as it gets updates, VMFusion and Parallels have moved on with only 10.7+
Check Software Update...
APPLE-SA-2013-02-01-1 Java for Mac OS X v10.6 Update 12
Java for Mac OS X v10.6 Update 12 is now available and addresses the
Available for: Mac OS X v10.6.8, Mac OS X Server v10.6.8
Impact: Multiple vulnerabilities in Java 1.6.0_37
Description: Multiple vulnerabilities exist in Java 1.6.0_37, the most serious of which may allow an untrusted Java applet to execute arbitrary code outside the Java sandbox. Visiting a web page containing a maliciously crafted untrusted Java applet may lead to arbitrary code execution with the privileges of the current user.
These issues are addressed by updating to Java version 1.6.0_39.
Further information is available via the Java website at http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/javase/releasenotes-136954.html
The link at Apple's download for Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 12 gets redirected to update 11.
I originally had the link in my posting, but pulled it when I found it didn't work.
I've provided feedback, but you're probably right that they won't do anything until next week now. I suspect a few of them put in many extra hours this week.