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Mr. Nicholls : Pay, including its relationship with productivity, is a matter for the judgment of individual employers in the light of their particular circumstances, but moderation in pay settlements is essential for competitiveness and jobs. Our international competitors enjoy lower growth in unit labour costs because they have considerably lower growth in earnings.
Productivity for the economy as a whole was 2.6 per cent. higher in the third quarter of 1988 than in the third quarter of 1987.
Mr. Nicholls : The White Paper "Employment for the 1990s" set out the Government's view that independent and voluntary arrangements are more likely to be effective than those imposed by statute. We are now consulting the construction industry training board and organisations representing employers in the construction industry about future arrangements for the industry.
41. Mr. Holt : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many luncheon club meals will be lost to retirement pensioners in east Cleveland as a result of changes in the training programme ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Nicholls : Training Agency officials are currently discussing the east Cleveland luncheon club project with the local training manager. They will do all they can to help the service to continue, so long as the project can provide the training which unemployed people of east Cleveland need to help them get a job. I hope that the luncheon club will be able to continue under employment training and that no meals will be lost to pensioners in east Cleveland.
Column 150recommendations made in its 1986 report. The recommendations in question concern the treatment of holiday expenditure, charges for financial services, new car prices and quality changes, improvements to price collection procedures and the family expenditure survey, and the release of a technical manual on the index methodology. The Government will be ready to consider the committee's recommendations on these points in due course.
Mr. Nicholls : The Government believe that employers should see older workers as a valuable resource. "Agism" is unfair and, because of demographic trends, it is irresponsible to ignore the talents which older workers can contribute to the economy. Although recruitment decisions must be left to employers, in making them they should not discriminate unfairly on age grounds. They should also be considering how best to use workers who want to continue beyond 60. We are putting these messages across to employers through various media, thus creating opportunities for workers over 60 to remain in or return to employment if they so wish.
51. Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects to publish the results of the consultation exercise on the Government's proposals to abolish wages councils ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Lee : My right hon. Friend has received a number of representations on the proposal to abolish the wages councils contained in the recent consultation document. He will publish a summary of the responses when these have been analysed and considered.
49. Mr. Hunter : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will seek to amend section 53 of the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978 so that in all circumstances a dismissed employee has the right to be provided with a written statement, giving the reasons for his/her dismissal.
Mr. Nicholls : No. To do so would add to the burdens on employers. A written statement of reasons for dismissal is intended to enable a worker to assess whether he/she has grounds for complaining of unfair dismissal to an industrial tribunal. Originally the qualifying period for both rights was the same. The current Employment Bill seeks to restore that position by increasing the qualifying period for a written statement to two years.
Mr. Lee : The number of self-employed people in the United Kingdom is estimated to have risen by 124,000 from September 1987 to September 1988, the latest period for which figures are available. It is estimated that over 3 million people are now self-employed and the number is still rising. The numbers of self-employed people have risen by over 60 per cent. since 1979 and they now represent more than one in nine of the employed work force.
Mr. Lee : In the nine months since April, the Employment Service placed over 1.4 million people into jobs, including over 178,000 who had been long-term unemployed. New procedures such as more effective interviews with those making a new claim for benefit will continue to reinforce this trend. Since the establishment of the Employment Service in October 1987 unemployment has fallen by 626,500 overall, with particularly steep falls in long-term unemployment.
58. Mr. Riddick : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he has any plans to meet the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress to discuss the current state of industrial relations ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Lee : The English tourist board's "Tourism Investment Reports" show that the total amount spent on hotel building, extension and refurbishment projects, with a value of £0.5 million or more, that were completed in 1988 was £319 million. Investment in such projects which were still under construction on 31 December 1988 was £730 million.
Column 152structure and in reporting regulations, exacerbated by under-reporting. Forecasts of future rates would not be meaningful. I welcome indications in the Health and Safety Commission's annual report for 1987-88 that, subject to these caveats, the rate of reported major injuries to employees in manufacturing may have levelled off. But the rate remains too high, while higher rates for workers in some other sectors, notably construction and quarrying, give particular cause for concern.
Responsibility for ensuring health and safety at work rests primarily with employers. I welcome the indications in the commission's report of increasing safety-related activity in industry. I believe this trend will continue, as employers become more aware of the economic as well as the human costs of accidents. The Government support the work of the Health and Safety Commission and Executive to stimulate and guide industry towards higher standards. Ministers' decisions in the 1988 public expenditure survey will increase real provision for the commission in each of the next three years, enabling the executive to employ more inspectors and carry out more inspections.
88. Sir David Price : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what information he has on the relative current standards of (a) United Kingdom and (b) other European Community countries legislation on safety at work and health at work ; and how much amending legislation will be necessary in the United Kingdom between now and 1992.
Mr. Nicholls : Direct comparisons are not possible because of differences in legal systems, enforcement arrangements and statistical systems. I am arranging for a copy of evidence given by the Health and Safety Commission to the Employment Committee (January 1987) on these issues to be sent to my hon. Friend.
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 was a forward-looking enabling measure designed to maintain or improve existing health and safety standards while providing flexibility to adapt to changing technology. The Act and its associated regulations, codes and guidance provide for a high standard of protection and I believe offers a useful model for the EC in developing harmonised minimum standards.
We seek in negotiations to make our standards the basis of EC ones wherever practicable, thus limiting amendments needed to our own law. Some amendments will, however, be required, not least in areas--such as noise, or major chemical hazards--where a need for improved provisions is generally perceived and can best develop
A major United Kingdom aim, as the scope of EC health and safety law expands, will be to ensure that our high standards of enforcement are matched throughout the EC. We shall pursue this as appropriate in negotiations, and in studies and discussions with the Community institutions and other member states.
Mr. Lee : The number of working days lost through stoppages of work due to industrial disputes in December 1978 was 542,000. The most recently available figure relates to November 1988, for which it is provisionally estimated that 173,000 working days were lost ; the December 1988 figures will be published on 16 February in the "Labour Market Statistics Press Notice".
Mr. Lee : Since 1 July 1986, just over 5 million interviews have taken place under the restart programme, of which just under 90 per cent. have resulted in an offer of positive help. It is not possible to state the number of people who have been interviewed, as some will have been interviewed more than once.
74. Mr. McAllion : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the number of individuals participating in the enterprise allowance scheme in Scotland and the United Kingdom in the last year for which figures are available.
Mr. Cope : In 1988, 101,816 people joined the enterprise allowance scheme in Great Britain, of which 9,045 were in Scotland. Since the scheme began in 1982 over 414,000 unemployed people have been helped to start their own businesses, of which 36,832 were in Scotland.
responsibilities of helping unemployed people back to work and providing a gateway to the Government's employment, training and enterprise programme.
Jobcentres have two main avenues of help to get people back to work. They provide facilities which are available to everyone for display of vacancies and submissions to jobs. They also undertake specialist measures designed to help longer-term unemployed and disadvantaged people. These include jobclubs, restart courses, the restart counselling programme, a range of services to help the disabled, and particular assistance to inner city residents. Jobcentres are usually the first point of contact for most inquiries about Government employment provisions. The list of employment, training and business help programmes gives some indication of the range of facilities available.
The jobcentre "gateway" role extends beyond the schemes and services provided by the Employment
Column 154Department group. A key function of staff is to provide information and to direct inquirer to appropriate "external" organisations and agencies, for example citizens advice bureaux, local enterprise agencies and adult literacy centres.
Jobcentres also have display facilities for self-help material, for example leaflets, pamphlets and reference books, giving details of the services available.
85. Mr. Butterfill : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what information he has on the extent to which there is a shortage of hotel accommodation in the M25 corridor ; and if he will make a statement.
114. Mr. Roger King : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many representations he has received in response to his proposals to create training and enterprise councils in the White Paper "Employment for the 1990s" ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Cope : Since the White Paper "Employment for the 1990s" was published on 5 December over 600 individuals and organisations have been in contact with me or my Department to inquire about training and enterprise councils. I am very pleased about the positive response. I will publish a prospectus in March and I expect to announce the first training and enterprise councils before the end of the year.
Mr. Nicholls : There are encouraging signs that our policies are producing results. More girls and women are gaining the qualifications and experience necessary to fill higher level jobs. Recent trends also suggest that progress is being made against race discrimination. There is obviously still more to do--women and ethnic minorities are still under-represented in more skilled and higher paid jobs. I am, however, confident that the 1990s will provide even greater opportunities for equality in all areas where discrimination may occur. The Government welcome this.
Column 1551989-90 ; and what steps are being taken to increase the supply of skilled workers, especially in the manufacturing industry.
Mr. Cope : There is no overall measure of the shortfall in the availability of skilled workers. The steps being taken by the Government to increase the supply of skilled workers in all industries are set out in the training section of the White Paper "Employment for the 1990s" published in December.
104. Mr. Ron Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he has received recent representations from the Confederation of British Industry about skill shortages ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Cope : I have received no recent representations from the Confederation of British Industry about skill shortages. My Department is working closely with employers to ensure that they are fully equipped to meet their skill needs in the 1990s. The training section of the White Paper "Employment for the 1990s" published in December sets out the steps being taken to counter skill shortages.
Mr. Cope : My right hon. Friend visited the EETPU training centre at Cudham hall on 19 April 1988. We welcome the initiative that EETPU has taken to provide training for its members to meet the demands of rapidly changing technology.
Mr. Lee : Relevant results from the spring 1987 labour force survey, the latest available, were analysed in an article, "Graduates and the labour market in the 1980s", published in the January 1989 edition of the Employment Gazette. The Employment Gazette is available in the House of Commons Library.
Mr. Cope : I met Business in the Community representatives to discuss the White Paper "Employment for the 1990s" published on 5 December last, and particularly the opportunities arising from it to improve services to small businesses. The local training and enterprise councils announced in the White Paper will become a focal point for local enterprise agencies and others in the network of organisations providing advice and support to small businesses and those wishing to start up on their own.
Mr. Cope : We know of 434 local enterprise agencies operating in the United Kingdom. Of these, 393 are approved under provisions of the 1988 Income and Corporation Taxes Act (previously under provisions of the 1982 Finance Act), which allow business sector sponsors tax relief on their contributions to such bodies. The local training and enterprise councils announced in the White Paper "Employment for the 1990s" will provide a means for ensuring that the provision of small firms counselling and training relevant to local needs is extended and co-ordinated. There will be an important opportunity here for local enterprise agencies, as the councils will be able to sub-contract small firms work to agencies which can demonstrate a high quality of service.
Mr. Cope : I regret that this information is not available. The National Council for Vocational Qualifications is developing a computerised system which will require awarding bodies whose qualifications have been accredited as national vocational qualifications (NVQs) to provide details of the number of awards made on a quarterly basis.
The council has accredited 83 qualifications to date.
119. Mr. Quentin Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many counselling sessions were provided by the small firms service during the last 12 months ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Cope : I have received no representations about business growth training, which I announced on 24 January in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King) at column 550.
Column 157European Community Employment Ministers to discuss current levels of unemployment in the Community ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects to make an announcement on the redundant mineworkers' payments scheme arising from discussions between officials from his Department and the Department of Energy.
Discussions between officials on the effect of restart on beneficiaries under the redundant mineworkers payments scheme are proceeding urgently. I hope it will be possible to reach conclusions shortly.
Mr. Ryder : My right hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. MacGregor) is now considering and evaluating the responses to the consultation document issued in September 1988. We are not yet in a position to say when this process will be completed, but a decision will not be unduly delayed.
Mr. Colvin : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many egg production units have been found to contain salmonella enteritidis ; and what percentage this is of the national total.
Mr. Donald Thompson : The most recent figures show that there were 35 reports of isolation of salmonella enteritidis in 1988 in table egg laying and breeder laying flocks. There are estimated to be 38, 534 holdings with table egg laying flocks and 11,403 with breeder laying flocks in Great Britain, but it is not possible to give as a percentage those flocks in which salmonella enteritidis has been reported as more than one report may relate to the same flock.
Mr Colvin : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many table poultry production units have been found to contain salmonella enteritidis ; and what percentage this is of the national total.