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Mr. Nicholls : On 4 May the deputy general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union wrote to my right hon. Friend urging negotiations with the employers about a national agreement to replace the scheme.
It is for employers and employees to decide the form of negotiations which best meets their needs. The Government note that the Transport and General Workers Union negotiates locally about terms and conditions for all other workers in Britain's ports, in and outside the dock labour scheme, and that pay rates of registered dock workers in scheme ports are also determined locally. The union, therefore, recognises that local negotiations are an appropriate response to the widely differing requirements of our ports. The Government therefore hope that the union will lift its veto on similar local negotiations on conditions of employment for the minority of port workers who are registered dock workers.
It is for member states to decide their own framework for employment in ports in accordance with national needs and Community policies to minimise distortions to competition.
Mr. Cope : Although the information requested is not available, I have no doubt that a strong economy and a productive work force will prove as attractive to overseas investors in the future as they have done in recent years.
Mr. Cope : In 1987, the latest year for which figures have been published, the net increase in the number of VAT-registered businesses was 45,000, or nearly 900 a week on average. The indications are that the rate of increase during 1988 has been faster. The vast majority of VAT- registered businesses are small.
Mr. Cope : The Government hope that employers within the retail sector will work closely with training and enterprise councils as they are established, to examine the local labour market and assess key skill needs and the adequacy of existing training arrangements. The Government are also seeking to establish national vocational qualifications based on competence. The retail sector recently launched its new retail certificate in England and Wales and the certificate in retail distribution in Scotland. These qualifications set standards for trainees in the retail sector. The introduction of YTS and employment training into retailing provides trainees with a properly structured training programme leading to these qualifications.
It was encouraging to see that the 1988 national training award winners included winners from the retail sector, for example B & Q and J. Sainsbury.
59. Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what help the senior management buy-out team of the Skills Training Agency have received either (a) financially or (b) professionally from his Department.
Mr. Cope : As I told the House on 13 March ( Official Report, 13 March column 25 ), we shall provide financial assistance to the management buy-out team towards the costs of obtaining external professional advice. No professional help has been offered from within my Department.
86. Ms. Armstrong : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what recent representations he has received (a) in favour and (b) against the continuation of section 4 grants under the Development of Tourism Act 1969.
75. Mr. Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he is now in a position to make a further statement on the future of the section 4 scheme of financial assistance for tourism projects.
Mr. Cope : On 24 January I announced that business growth training would provide training for owners and managers of very small businesses in better management and business skills in order to help them run and develop their business ( Official Report 24 January column 550 ]. This applies equally to the self-employed. Further information is available in the Library.
Mr. Cope : The Government firmly believe that there is a social dimension to the single European market ; because it is directed at creating new jobs, reducing unemployment and improving real standards of living. The Government do not believe that a charter of the kind proposed can contribute to achieving those goals.
42. Mr. Boswell : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what support industry and Government are giving to the international youth skill olympics to be held at the national exhibition centre in August ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Cope : The Government welcome the staging of the international youth skill olympics in Birmingham. It provides a good showcase for British industry to show the skills of its young people to the rest of the world. High standards of skill through quality training are essential if we are to have continued success in the market place in the next decade.
Financial support for the international youth skill olympics is being raised primarily from industry. Sponsorship, in the form of cash, loan of machinery and materials, is expected to raise in the region of £4,000,000.
The Government, through the Training Agency, provide financial support each year to the event organisers, Skill UK Ltd. During 1988-89 this amounted to £120,000 and £60,000 has been allocated for 1989-90. A contribution has also been made towards the cost of renting the national exhibition centre.
43. Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many young disabled people have been accepted for a YTS place ; what percentage of them were in severity categories 1 and 2 ; and what percentage were in severity category 5 and above.
Mr. Cope : The total number of young people with disabilities in training on YTS on 31 May 1989 was 12,001. There are no figures available on the percentage of young people with disabilities by severity category.
44. Mr. Dunnachie : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will commission further research into the support that industry is prepared to give to non-statutory training organisations.
Mr. Cope : A review of the progress of non-statutory training organisations on a sector-by-sector basis is due to be undertaken early next year. The review will include consideration of industry's support for these organisations.
, |Number -------------------------------------------- YTS |14,958 Employment training |8,701 Business enterprise programme |<1>236 Business growth training |<1>257 <1> Figures for those in training are not kept for these programmes. The figures given are for starts from 1 April to 31 May.
Mr. Nicholls : The estimate for May 1989 of working days lost through stoppages of work due to industrial disputes is not yet available ; but for the first four months of 1989 it is provisionally estimated that 256,000 working days were lost, compared with 7,591, 000 working days lost for the corresponding period in 1979.
Column 124that the Government propose to make it unlawful to induce industrial action by workers of an employer not party to a trade dispute except in the case of lawful picketing.
Mr. Nicholls : The number of working days lost through stoppages of work due to industrial disputes in 1988 is estimated at 3,702,000. This is about a third of the annual average over the previous 10-year period.
Mr. Nicholls : The Government are reviewing the law in relation to industrial action with a view to issuing a consultative document over the next couple of months and including proposals in legislation in the autumn.
The directors of CSA Ltd. recently decided to put the company into voluntary liquidation when it became apparent that the company could not meet its financial obligations. The decision was a matter for the directors of the company and is not something in which I could intervene.
My right hon. Friend's major concern was to ensure that everything possible was done to minimise the disruption for trainees so that they could continue to develop their skills and improve their job prospects.
All the company's 1,011 trainees have been, or will shortly be, placed with alternative training managers.
Mr. Nicholls : In the year to 30 May 1989, 166 applications were accepted under the job share programme, as a result of which 220 people have gained employment. I believe that the programme can play a useful role in helping unemployed people and encouraging more flexible patterns of work, and my right hon. Friend is considering action to give it more publicity.
70. Mr. David Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what estimate he has as to the number of employees working in pre-entry closed shops ; and what proportion this constitutes of the total number of employees currently working in closed shops.
Mr. Nicholls : Our Green Paper "Removing Barriers to Employment", which was published on 20 March, estimates the total number of people covered by all types of pre-entry closed shop arrangements in Great Britain as being of the order of 1.3 million. This constitutes half the total of around 2.6 million people estimated to be covered by all forms of closed shop arrangements. These estimates are derived from a specially commissioned survey carried out between 22 February and 6 March 1989, a summary of which has been placed in the Library.
79. Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he has any plans to meet the chairman of British Venture Capital to discuss the expansion of small firms ; and if he will make a statement.
82. Dr. Goodson-Wickes : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment when he last met the chairman of the national training task force ; what matters were discussed ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Cope : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I last met the chairman of the national training task force on 22 May 1989 and we discussed progress on establishing training and enterprise councils. We are very encouraged by the progress made and are confident that we will have a number of high-quality TECs operational next year.
93. Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will make it his policy to provide adequate resources to enable the Co-operative Development Agency to consolidate and develop its work in promoting co-operative enterprises in the United Kingdom ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Cope : The Co-operative Development Agency is at present largely supported by my Department under the terms of the 1984 Co-operative Development Agency and Industrial Development Act. Under this Act Government funding was increased up to an overall limit of £3 million. At current rates of spending this limit will be reached in the financial year 1990-91. In January this year my Department wrote to organisations representing the interests of the co-operative movement and consulting them on a proposal that the agency's life should not be extended. The views received are now being carefully considered and I hope to announce our conclusions and intentions in the near future.
104. Mr. Dicks : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what information he has on the proportion of foreign firms which believe that British industrial relations have improved significantly in recent years ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Nicholls : Such information is not held by my Department. There is no doubt that the last 10 years have seen major improvements in industrial relations. This is illustrated by the decline in recorded stoppages which in 1988 were at the lowest level since 1935. New jobs and employment opportunities have followed this improvement.
Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what action he proposes to take following the publication and submission to him by the British Resorts Association of the booklet. "Perspective on the Future for Resorts."