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Mr. Nicholls : There are no plans to revise the level of supplementary grants payable for employment training (ET). The Government believe that the level and number of supplementary grants currently payable is sufficient to provide training of good quality.
In future training and enterprise councils will be able to vary both the structure and level of payments to ET training managers.
Column 201CBI's task force report in favour of training credits. The Government are examining the report's recommendations with interest.
Mr. Eggar : Since its inception in 1982, over 480,000 people have started up in business through the enterprise allowance scheme. Survey evidence shows that in addition to those receiving the allowance, for every 100 businesses still operating at the three-year stage 114 additional jobs have been generated.
45. Dr. Michael Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many people are employed in machine tool manufacture ; what was the figure five years and 10 years ago ; and if he will make a statement.
Employees in employment Unadjusted, Great Britain Metal-working machine tools and engineers tools (Group 322)<1> |Number ------------------------------- September 1979 |110,764 September 1984 |76,299 September 1989 |74,796 <1> Standard Industrial Classification 1980.
46. Mr. Bevan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the current youth unemployment rate (a) in the United Kingdom and (b) in other European Community Countries ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Nicholls : In September 1989, the latest comparable date, the unemployment rate in the United Kingdom amongst under 25-year-olds was under half that of the EEC average. The following table shows a full comparison.
Unemployment rates for comparison between EEC countries Seasonally adjusted Under 25 years-September 1989 |Rates ------------------------------- Luxembourg |4.1 West Germany |5.0 United Kingdom |8.2 Denmark |10.7 Portugal |10.8 Netherlands |15.8 Belgium |17.7 France |20.8 Ireland |23.5 Greece |<1>24.4 Spain |32.5 Italy |33.3 EEC average |17.4 <1>April 1987.
48. Mr. Marlow : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the implications of the social charter with regard to the extension of the power of European Community institutions to initiate and carry through legislation.
Mr. Eggar : The social charter would not itself extend the powers of the European Community institutions to initiate and carry through legislation. It might however be seen by those institutions, including the European Court of Justice, as a commitment to the principles embodied in it.
Mr. Eggar : Construction sites are regularly included in benefit fraud investigations by this Department. Exercises on these sites often prove successful in identifying fraudulent claimants. For example, a recent exercise in the Kent area investigated 592 construction site workers, resulting in 177 claims to benefit being withdrawn with a net benefit saving of £167,000. We will continue to investigate benefit fraud within the industry.
63. Mr. Paice : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will make a statement on the effective liaison and subsequent achievements of his Department, in helping small businesses over the last 12 months.
Mr. Eggar : My Department has close ties with the small business sector and since I was appointed Minister for Small Firms last July, I have made it my business to meet a wide range of organisations representing and providing services to small firms.
To assist with small firms development, my Department operates a number of programmes which includes the small firms service which provides a comprehensive information and advice service, as well as particular measures to help ease access to finance. An indication of how these measures have fared over the past 12 months is as follows :
In 1988-89, the small firms service answered over 281,000 inquiries (an increase of 6 per cent. on 1987-88), handled over 30,000 new counselling cases (an increase of 12 per cent. on 1987-88), and conducted over 43,000 counselling sessions (an increase of 10 per cent. on 1987-88) ;
This year, the number of small businesses to benefit from the loan guarantee scheme which underwrites unsecured loans for small businesses, was 2,292, an increase of 1,058 over the previous year ; In addition, the number of entrants to the Training Agency's enterprise programmes, the business enterprise programme and the enterprise training element of employment training, increased by 22 per cent. from 43,489 in 1987-88 to 53,003 in 1988-89, The number of entrants to the graduate enterprise programme, which helps graduates take the first steps to setting up businesses on their own, rose from 155 in 1987-88 to 1,150 in 1988-89 ;
My Department also provides financial assistance through the enterprise allowance scheme, and makes substantial grants to Business in the Community, local enterprise agencies and the Prince's Youth Business trust, amongst others.
Self-employed in the United Kingdom Unadjusted June 1989 |Thousands -------------------------------------------------- South East (including London) |1,106 East Anglia |142 South West |307 West Midlands |254 East Midlands |209 Yorkshire and Humberside |242 North West |298 North |117 Wales |151 Scotland |224 Northern Ireland |60 |------- United Kingdom |3,110
68. Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether the successor bodies to the industry training boards will be eligible for funds from the European social fund ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar : As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State told the House during the debate on the Employment Bill on 8 November, we are discussing this matter with the European Commission with a view to allowing the successor bodies to industry training boards the same access to the European social fund as the existing boards. I shall keep the hon. Member informed of the outcome of these discussions.
Mr. Eggar : Between 1 January and 17 November 1989 there were 126 notified incidents of actual physical assault on members of staff in the employment service. In the same period there were 821 reported cases of threatening behaviour and verbal abuse.
Mr. Nicholls : On 9 November I wrote to the chairman of CITB informing him of our plans for future training arrangements for the construction industry and detailing the priorities for the new board. I have no current plans to meet the chairman at this time, but Training Agency officials have already met CITB officials to discuss how priority work can be taken forward.
97. Mrs. Gorman : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he has any plans to make the payment of the construction industry training board levy voluntary for small builders and construction firms.
Mr. Nicholls : The Government have asked the board to devise new levy-grant arrangements which exclude more small firms from the levy and have the effect of extinguishing the levy liability of the better training employers.
76. Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received about abuses by employment training agencies in the west of Scotland ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Nicholls : The operations of training agents and training managers in the west of Scotland, as in the country overall, are regularly monitored. I have no evidence of abuse and robust control is exercised to ensure contractual obligations are met.
83. Mr. Dunnachie : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what steps he is taking to encourage those in work to have an opportunity to continue vocational training throughout their working lives.
Mr. Nicholls : This must be primarily the responsibility of individuals and their employers. The training and enterprise councils will help employers to undertake investment in people. They will be closely involved in an action programme on investing in people that I have asked the national training task force to join with the CBI and other business and training organisations in developing.
Mr. Nicholls : My Department's aims include promoting a positive environment for work, in which industrial relations continue to improve. We shall continue to promote good practices, such as those connected with employee involvement described in the recently published booklet "People and Companies", and to review and reform industrial relations and trade union legislation as necessary to establish a fair balance under the law. We shall also continue to support the independent Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, which is charged with the general duty of promoting the improvement of industrial relations.
Mr. Eggar : Business growth training was launched in April, to help small businesses improve their competitiveness and profits through training. So far the response to business growth training has been encouraging with over 30,000 firms taking advantage of the options available under the initiative.
Mr. Nicholls : None. As stated in our White Paper "Employment for the 1990's" (Cm 540), the Government believe that people should be free to choose for themselves whether or not they belong to a trade union.
Mr. Nicholls : Employment Department Ministers take every opportunity to emphasise to employers the importance of equal opportunities in the workplace and the need to treat people on their merits regardless of their race, colour, sex, age, disability, etc. My Department's jobcentres and the Training Agency make equal opportunities a priority. Jobcentres have an important role both in advising people who feel they have suffered discrimination of their right to complain to an industrial tribunal and in challenging employers who notify potentially discriminatory vacancies to jobcentres.
The Training Agency's recent publication "Defusing the Demographic Time Bomb" which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State launched on 24 October will help to promote the need to develop all the work force.
The Training Agency also provides special training for ethnic minorities and for women to encourage them to enter industries and occupations in which they are under-represented, and part-time and flexible training courses which can be particularly helpful to women returning to work after time at home looking after their families, lone parents and disabled people.
My Department's race relations employment advisory service provides a free advisory, consultancy and training service to help employers implement effective equal opportunity policies within a multi-racial work force. Priority is advising on the CRE 1984 code of practice's recommendations to employers on the implementation of equal opportunity policies and promoting the use of the positive action provisions of the Race Relations Act.
Mr. Nicholls : Pay in the east midlands, as elsewhere, is generally a matter for employers and employees to decide for themselves in the light of all the relevant circumstances. Any unnecessary intervention by Government could only be harmful to business and to prospects for jobs.
Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what response he has received from the business community about the establishment of training and enterprise councils ; and if he will make a statement.
More than 50 groups of senior employers in England and Wales have applied for development funding ; the table lists the areas from which we have had applications and indicates their status.
List of training and enterprise councils that have applied for development funding ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- South East Milton Keynes |Approved Hertfordshire |Approved Essex |Approved Hampshire |Approved Isle of Wight |Approved Thames Valley |Approved Oxfordshire |Approved Kent |Under consideration London Kingston/Merton |Approved London East |Under consideration South London |Under consideration South West Devon/Cornwall |Approved Dorset |Approved Somerset |Approved Avon |Under consideration West Midlands Birmingham |Approved Walsall |Approved Staffordshire |Approved Coventry/Warwickshire |Under consideration Dudley |Approved Wolverhampton |Approved East Midlands and Eastern North Nottinghamshire |Approved Norfolk/Waveney |Approved Suffolk |Approved Greater Peterborough |Approved Bedfordshire |Under consideration Central and South Cambridgeshire |Under consideration Yorkshire and Humberside Sheffield |Approved Calderdale/Kirklees |Approved North Yorkshire |Approved Rotherham |Approved Leeds |Under consideration Barnsley/Doncaster |Under consideration North West Cumbria |Approved East Lancashire |Approved Rochdale |Approved Oldham |Approved South and East Cheshire |Approved Wigan |Approved Manchester |Under consideration Stockport/High Peak |Approved Bolton/Bury |Under consideration St. Helens |Under consideration Northern Teesside |Approved Tyneside |Approved Wearside |Approved County Durham |Approved Northumberland |Approved Wales Mid Glamorgan |Approved North East Wales |Approved West Wales |Approved North West Wales |Approved South Glamorgan |Approved Gwent |Under consideration
Mr. Loyden : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the average length of the permitted period given to unemployed claimants making a fresh claim for unemployment related benefits ; and how many claimants are not given a permitted period, by region.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment which areas of Newcastle have been targeted for the job interview guarantee scheme ; how many agreements with employers have been made ; and how many unemployed people have been assisted.
Mr. Eggar : The job interview guarantee pilot in Newcastle is being targeted on long term unemployed residents of the Cruddas Park and Loadman Street estates. Employers who participate can be drawn from any area within reach of jobseekers from these estates. The pilot was formally launched at the start of November. No agreements with employers have yet been signed, although many employers have already indicated their interest in participating.