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105. Mr. Archer : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many employers have been prosecuted as a result of investigations by Her Majesty's factory inspectorate and Her Majesty's agriculture inspectorate in each year since 1973 for alleged offences in connection with the employment of children ; with what result ; and what was (a) the highest, (b) the average and (c) the lowest penalty imposed following a conviction.
Mr. Nicholls : I refer the hon. Member to information in the reply to his question by the Secretary of State for Health on 16 February, Official Report column 327, in respect of industrial and agricultural undertakings. Prosecutions of industrial undertakings by the Health and Safety Executive were as a result of investigations by the factory inspectorate, and those of agricultural undertakings as a result of investigations by the agricultural inspectorate.
Mr. Lee : As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said in his reply to my hon. Friend's question of 14 February 1989 at column 145 on 15 February the drive against fraudulent benefit claims is being intensified. In the nine months from April 1988 325,000 cases were investigated compared with 286,000 in the same period in 1987. Increased resources have been devoted to fraud detection, particularly in the south-east, and a new inner London fraud team has been established to pursue investigations into the hidden economy.
116. Sir John Stokes : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the latest figure for savings for 1988 as a result of investigations of fraudulent claims ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Cope : At the end of February 1989, 118 local employer networks were operating throughout Great Britain. Some may form the nucleus of a training and enterprise council. The Government will be encouraging the new councils to make the best use of the expertise of these employer networks.
120. Mr. Simon Coombs : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many representations he has received following the publication of the White Paper, "Employment for the 1990s" ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Cope : We have received several hundred representations following publication of the White Paper "Employment for the 1990s", the majority of which have expressed interest in and support for the introduction of training and enterprise councils. The prospectus inviting local groups led by employers to submit proposals for forming training and enterprise councils in their areas was published on 10 March.
145. Mr. Cran : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many vacancies were notified to jobcentres, and what proportion these constitute of the estimated number of vacancies in the economy in the last months for which figures are available.
Mr. Lee : In January 1989 the level of unfilled vacancies, seasonally adjusted, at jobcentres in the United Kingdom was 229,200. A survey in January 1989 showed that only about one third of all vacancies in the economy are notified to jobcentres.
147. Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment from which sources he derives information about the number and proportion of disabled people of working age who are unemployed ; and what is the latest information provided by these sources.
Column 201at jobcentres and careers offices. The latest figures available show that on 6 January 1989 there were 50,219 unemployed people with disabilities registered for work at jobcentres and careers offices. There is no count made of the total number of people with disabilities of working age.
Mr. Lee : At 31 January 1989 there were 1,220 job clubs in operation. I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, North (Mr. Burt) on 27 January 1989, Official Report, column 810.
Mr. Cope : We know of 437 local enterprise agencies operating in the United Kingdom. Of these, 396 are approved under provisions of the 1988 Income and Corporation Taxes Act (previously under provisions of the Finance Act 1982), which allows business sector sponsors tax relief on their contributions to such bodies.
170. Mr. Ralph Howell : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he has made a study during the last 12 months of workfare schemes in the United States of America ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Cope : I have not made a study of workfare schemes in the United States of America during the last 12 months. Some two years ago Professor John Addison of the university of South Carolina completed a study of such schemes as part of a wider research project commissioned by my Department. A summary of his findings were included in the Blaug report on workfare and a summary was published in "Economic Affairs" in May 1988.
Mr. Nicholls : The examination of the operation of the pre-entry closed shop which was announced in our White Paper "Employment for the 1990s" is now nearing completion. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State expects to make a further announcement shortly.
60. Mr. Stevens : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many unemployed people have been helped to start a business during the last 12 months through the enterprise allowance scheme ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 202help of the enterprise allowance scheme. Since the scheme began in 1982 over 421,000 unemployed people have been helped to create their own business.
Mr. Lee : Since the introduction of the restart programme in July 1986, some 5.4 million interviews have been carried out, of which just under 90 per cent. have resulted in an offer of positive help being made.
The restart programme now offers interviews at six-monthly intervals to everyone who has been out of work for six months or more. In addition, certain clients are now offered follow-up interviews in order to provide further guidance and support. Since September 1988, the programme has delivered the Government's guarantee to people aged between 18 and 24, who have been unemployed for between six and 12 months, of the offer of a place on employment training, or in a job club or on the enterprise allowance scheme.
Mr. Lee : Since 1 July 1986, some 5.4 million interviews have taken place under the restart programme of which just under 90 per cent. have resulted in an offer of positive help being made. There is no record of the number of people who have been interviewed as some will have been interviewed more than once.
Mr. Cope : In 1987, the latest year for which figures have been published, the estimated number of new registrations for value added tax was 205,000. The net increase in the number of VAT registered businesses in 1987 was 45,000, or nearly 900 a week on average. The indications are that the rate of increase during 1988 has been faster.
88. Mrs. Fyfe : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to ensure that time off rights for trade union representatives will be equal to those enjoyed by safety representatives under the Health and Safety at Work Regulations.
Mr. Lee : Time off rights for trade union representatives will be provided under the Employment Bill, amending the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978, which will not affect the provisions for safety representatives in the Health and Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations.
Column 203many of them were found to be illegally underpaying, for the latest available year by the wages inspectorate divisions covering the northern region.
Mr. Nicholls : In 1988 the wages inspectorate visited 1,004 workplaces in the northern region for the purposes of checking workers' pay and found 369 were underpaying one or more worker. However, this cannot be taken as representing the general level of non-compliance with wages council orders because the wages inspectorate targets its checks by visit on those workplaces thought more likely to underpay workers. The wages inspectorate also visited five workplaces in the northern region for advisory purposes.
Mr. Maclennan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the introduction of the employment training scheme on the operation of community insulation projects.
Mr. Nicholls : I am aware that some community insulation projects operating under employment training have had difficulty attracting trainees. Community insulation projects have an important role to play in employment training and on 10 February at column 868 my right hon. Friend announced a range of measures specifically aimed at supporting and maintaining the present community insulation project network.
Mr. Maclennan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what consideration he has given to funding directly the community insulation programme, along the lines of the funding arrangements of the action for community employment scheme in Northern Ireland.
Mr. Nicholls : I refer the hon. Member to the measures I announced on 10 February at column 868, which reinforce the generous support available for running community insulation projects in Great Britain through employment training. Different employment and training programmes operate in Northern Ireland so different funding arrangements are appropriate there.
141. Mr. Patrick Thompson : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many representations he has received on his proposals to create training and enterprise councils ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 204forming training and enterprise councils in their areas. The TECs will represent a fundamental change in the way training and enterprise activities are managed and developed. The idea has captured the imagination of employers throughout the country and we have already had many inquiries. I have invited the first formal applications for development funding by the end of April. I expect the first TECs to be in operation by early next year.
159. Mr. Colin Shepherd : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will outline his proposals for employers to direct training for jobs on a local basis through training and enterprise councils ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Cope : Training and enterprise councils offer employers major opportunities to improve the supply of skills and to promote enterprise. They will be well placed to identify key skill needs in their localities. They will manage and develop the training and enterprise programmes previously run by the Employment Department so that they meet local needs more effectively. The TECs will also be able to take new initiatives, in partnership with others, to promote more effective training and small business support, using public and private funds. They will have a key role in helping to stimulate greater investment by employers in training their employees. The TECs will greatly increase employers' ability to mould the training system to meet their needs.
184. Mr. Mans : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of United Kingdom trade passes through (a) dock labour scheme ports and (b) non-scheme ports ; and what was the comparable figure in 1965.
Mr. Portillo : The percentage of trade tonnage (including oil) passing through dock labour scheme ports and non-scheme ports in Great Britain are given in the table for 1965 and 1987. Northern Ireland is not covered by the dock labour scheme legislation.
|c|United Kingdom Foreign trade through ports in Great Britain|c| Percentage of tonnage |Dock labour scheme ports|Non-scheme ports ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1965 |88 |12 1987 |62 |38
Column 205traffic control system is adequately protected from unauthorised entry by computer hackers ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Robert Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is his estimate of the numbers of vehicles seeking to travel from the home counties to north Yorkshire and the north in the coming 10 years.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : The Department prepares forecasts of national traffic. Where specific trunk road improvements are being assessed, local traffic forecasts are prepared. Projections are not otherwise made for traffic between specific regions.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : I am advised that the average motorist drives about 6,000 miles per annum, while the average household car travels 7,700 miles per annum. Mileage per car is higher than mileage per driver because there is more than one driver per car. These estimates are derived from the latest national travel survey carried out in 1985-86.
Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport to what extent random tests to determine whether drivers' eyesight is defective are carried out in England and Wales ; with what results ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Last month I placed in the Library two transport and road research laboratory reports on eyesight standards for driving--"A Re-analysis of Californian Driver Vision Data" and "A Survey of Visual Acuity of Drivers"--together with a paper entitled "Vision and Driving" prepared by the Department's medical adviser. These documents show clearly that defective eyesight is not a problem in the general driving population as a whole.
We are not aware of any random testing of driver eyesight standards. We know that some police forces carry out occasional surveys of driver eyesight using binocular screening devices.
Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has any proposals to seek to amend the law so as to make it an offence for a person to drive a vehicle while having defective vision, whether known to that person or not ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : It is an offence under section 91 of the Road Traffic Act 1972 to drive with defective eyesight, whether known or not, to the extent that the driver is unable to meet the number plate test.
Column 206It is an offence to refuse to submit to any eyesight test required by a police constable. The maximum penalty is £400, as well as an obligatory two penalty points.
Around 300 people each year are prosecuted for these offences.
Mr. Portillo : The need for the efficient marking of lobster and crab pots will shortly be drawn to the attention of fishermen by the circulation of advice to the local sea fisheries committees, and attempts are also being made to stimulate interest in the subject in the fishing press. It remains the case however that progress can best be made through better communications locally between fishermen, yachtsmen and others concerned.
Mr. Portillo : The use of the Channel tunnel for purposes such as the passage of electricity cables is a matter in the first place for Eurotunnel's commercial judgment. I understand that it has considered the possibility of entering into arrangements with CEGB, and it seems that overall the disadvantages would outweigh the advantages. There would be considerable technical problems to be overcome, for example in making space available, coping with the heat generated, and avoiding interference with signalling equipment.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made in discussions between his Department's officials and Beazers Ltd. to achieve environmental improvements to the proposed M11 link road through Leyton and Leytonstone ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Discussions between officials of the Department of Transport and Beazers Ltd. have taken place against clearly set out criteria that there should be no delay to the road scheme nor any extra risk of cost falling upon my right hon. Friend. The costs and feasibility of Beazers' tunnelling proposals were agreed. Beazers has been unable to agree financial terms which would meet these criteria. Beazers has now been advised that its proposals could not be incorporated in the scheme without delay to its completion.
Mr. Loyden : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will provide precise details of refurbishment/upgrading costs expended over the past five years on the following stations (a) Hartland MSRC-to 6 December 1988, (b) Ramsey MRSC-to 17 January 1989 and (c) Peterhead MRSC-to date.
|£ ----------------------------- Hartland MRSC |54,634 Ramsey MSRC |4,723 Peterhead MRSC |5,196
Mr. Hunter : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish statistics indicating the increase of traffic in Hampshire (i) in the county as a whole and (ii) in the local authority districts of the county for each year since 1979.
Mr. Peter Bottomley [holding answer 9 March 1989] : The Department carries out surveys designed to measure traffic growth only at the national level. For counties, estimates of traffic levels are made annually for major roads (class A and motorways). These levels estimates are subject to wide margins of error and do not provide a reliable basis for measuring year-to-year changes. For 1987 the level of traffic on major roads in Hampshire is estimated at 7.2 billion vehicle kilometres. No estimates are made of traffic levels for the local authority districts within a county.
Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the total extra amount spent by Her Majesty's Government on police and improved security on the London Underground since the publication of the 1986 report "Crime on the Underground".
Mr. Portillo [holding answer 10 March 1989] : The Government have made available to London Underground Ltd. £15 million specifically for additional passenger security measures recommended by the 1986 report. In addition the increase in complement of the London Underground division of the British Transport police from 350 to 400 officers will cost an extra £1.5 million in a full year.
Sir Eldon Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his request to Suffolk county council to investigate what action can be taken to improve the A11/B1106 junction at Elveden, if he has received the council's recommendations ; and what steps he is now taking to bring about an improvement in road safety at this junction.
Mr. Peter Bottomley [holding answer 10 March 1989] : Suffolk county council has recommended that a roundabout be built at this junction. At the Department's request it is now carrying out an economic evaluation of the proposal in relation to any possible longer-term major improvements to this section of the trunk road. We expect to have the evaluation in a few weeks and shall then be able to give further consideration to the possibilities for improving the junction.
Column 208Nature Conservancy Council's report on the future of its reserves ; when he intends to respond to this report ; and if he will make a statement on Government policy on the future of Britain's state-owned nature reserves.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley [holding answer 8 February 1989] : My right hon. Friend proposes to discuss this report with the chairman of the Nature Conservancy Council as soon as we have completed our initial examination of it and before making any announcement of the Government's response. At that time I would expect to place a copy of the report in the Libraries of both Houses.
Mr. Gordon Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is (a) the Government funding for UK 2000 in 1987-88, 1988-89, with plans for 1989-90 and (b) the number of people employed on programmes under the UK 2000 initiative in each of these years.
Mr. Trippier : The Department's grant to UK 2000 in England was £1.381 million in 1987-88 and £1.805 million in 1988-89. In each year UK 2000 matched this grant with private sponsorship. In 1987-88, 10, 300 community programme (CP) trainees were employed on projects supported by UK 2000, with 12,500 volunteers also involved. In 1988-89 some 9,000 CP trainees were employed, reducing to under 6,000 trainees following the introduction of employment training, with an estimated 15,000 volunteers also involved.
I have not yet formally offered grant or approved plans for 1989-90. I have however indicated to UK 2000 my intention to continue funding at the same level as in 1988-89, as a declining share of the overall budget for the initiative.
UK 2000 also operates separately in Scotland and Wales, receiving grant from the Scottish and Welsh Offices respectively.
(2) if he will publish the latest details of samples taken by the South West water authority in the Lowermoor treatment works distribution area ; and if he will make a statement on the proposed programme of sampling intended in the area for the seven months period from 1 March 1989 to 30 September 1989.