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Mr. Michael Forsyth : The introduction of a statutory national minimum wage of the kind proposed by the Labour party makes economic nonsense. It could cost up to 2 million jobs and would irreversibly damage the labour market.
The Government's policies are designed to create the conditions for an effective and flexible labour market.
Miss Widdecombe : Information by county as opposed to regions is only available from the periodic censuses of employment. Employment in Warwickshire rose from 176,900 in September 1984 to 180,700 in September 1987, and to 186,600 in September 1991.
22. Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what special measures he plans to offer training and employment opportunities to young people in local communities with particularly high rates of unemployment.
Miss Widdecombe : Unemployment need not be an option for young people because this Government guarantee a training place for 16 and 17- year-olds who have left full-time education and do not yet have a job.
Our plans also include the introduction of modern apprenticeships offering young people high quality work-based training leading to higher level qualifications.
If employers respond, as we hope they will, modern apprenticeships will treble to over 40,000 a year the
Column 549number of young people who qualify at national vocational qualification level 3 or above through our programmes in England.
Miss Widdecombe : Since 1983, over 3 million young people have benefited from high quality vocational training by participating in youth training and its predecessors. The increasing availability of youth credits and the introduction of modern apprenticeships will encourage even more young people to train, and to higher levels.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : Provisional figures for the most recent year available, 1992-93, show that 15,885 injuries, including those to members of the public, arose from accidents in the construction industry reported to the relevant enforcing authorities. This is lower than for the previous four years 1988-89 to 1991-92 at 21,509, 22,872, 22,337, and 19,772 respectively.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : A total of 79,600 job placings were made by the Employment Service in the north of England in the 12 month period ending 3 December 1993. More than 70,000 of these placings were of unemployed people. Over 19,000 were people unemployed more than six months, and 2,200 were unemployed people with disabilities.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will make arrangements for the Data Protection Registrar to inspect relevant contracts with suppliers of IT services that involve the use of personal data held by his Department in order to check whether all appropriate arrangements in relation to the Data Protection Act 1984 have been made, and whether such contracts make provisions for the registrar to make random inspections in order to check the suppliers' compliance with the eighth data protection principle.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : Under the Data Protection Act 1984, the Data Protection Registrar has a wide range of powers to ensure that all individuals and organisations holding personal data on computer systems are registered and observe the data protection principles as required by the Act.
The Department is committed to observing the data protection principles when it obtains and processes personal data. Where the Department contracts with a third party for the processing of personal data, the contracts stipulate that the Act must be complied with.
The registrar's powers to promote compliance with the principles apply to both the owner of the personal data and the service provider. It is for the registrar to decide how he will use his powers under the Act. Further arrangements for him to discharge his duties effectively are not considered to be necessary.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : In reaching final decisions about the details of the access to work scheme, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my noble Friend Lord Henley are considering carefully a range of representations made by disability and employer groups, including representations about the proposed employer contribution. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State hopes to announce decisions soon.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for 3Employment (1) what irregularities there have been in the delivery of unemployment benefit girocheques in the Doncaster area during the past four months ; and if he will make a statement ;
(2) by what method unemployment benefit girocheques are currently delivered to the Doncaster area.
Mr. Forsyth : Responsibility for the subject of the question has been delegated to the Employment Service Agency under its chief executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given. Letter from M. E. G. Fogden to Mr. Martin Redmond, dated 18 January 1994 :
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions about the method by which unemployment benefit girocheques are delivered to the Doncaster area and what irregularities have occurred in their delivery over the last four months.
Column 551It may be helpful if I explain that the Employment Service (ES) is in the process of updating it's benefit payments computer system. The National Unemployment Benefit Computer (NUBS 1) has been in operation since the mid eighties. We are currently replacing it with NUBS 2 ; this process will be complete by the end of September 1994. For people on Training for Work, Learning for Work and Community Action, payments are made by a different system, the Employment Service Payments system (ESP).
NUBS 1 girocheques are processed at Reading, and NUBS 2/ESP at Washington, Tyne and Wear. The Royal Mail service for each of these is different.
It is the objective of the ES to achieve delivery of a girocheque to clients within three working days of attending the local office to make the declaration which generates a payment. Clients are given this information in writing when they first attend to claim benefit. Under NUBS 1 girocheques are produced in postcode order and are sorted on the Reading site by Royal Mail staff. They are then transported by rail, road or air depending on the destination. Many of the destinations are served by "direct bags" which go directly to the local Royal Mail delivery office.
The NUBS 2 girocheques are postcode sorted at the point of despatch (Washington) and delivered direct to the Royal Mail delivery offices via Royal Mail Streamline courier service. This ensures that bags containing the girocheques do not enter the Royal Mail system until the bags reach the destination town and it is only then that they are opened.
ESP girocheques are sent direct to clients from Washington via the normal First Class post. To support the use of First Class post, offices are loaded onto the Area Computer Centre closest to their own locality.
Close liaison is maintained between NUBS/ESP management teams and their Royal Mail counterparts to ensure that delivery systems support the ES business objectives and, where problems occur, remedial action is urgently introduced.
During the last four months there have been 15 delays in the receipt of girocheques reported in Doncaster. Eleven of these were ESP payments and four were NUBS 2. In each case the girocheque was delivered within three days. It appears that clients have reported non receipt after two days as a delay.
At Mexborough, there have been nine reported delays in receipt of NUBS 1 giros since September 1993. All of these were caused by split responsibility for Mexborough postcodes between Rotherham and Sheffield sorting offices. It has now been arranged for Royal Mail staff at Reading to perform a more precise identification of mail to ensure that it goes to the correct sorting office in future. Again it is confirmed that none of the delays exceeded three days between signing and receipt.
I hope this is helpful.
Sir Michael Neubert : To ask the Secretary of State for employment how many people in the United Kingdom are in work, as a percentage of the total population of working age ; and what information he has as to the figure in each other EC country.
Total employment as a percentage of the populationaged 15 to 64; 1991<1> |Per cent. ----------------------------------- Denmark |76 Portugal |71 United Kingdom |69 Germany |65 Netherlands |63 Luxembourg |61 France |60 Belgium |57 Italy |56 Greece |55 Ireland |52 Spain |49 Source: OECD, except United Kingdom (Employment Department). <1> 1991 is the latest year for which comparable data are available.
Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what regulations exist laying down safety standards for the production and handling of poly aluminium chloride and aluminium chlorohydrate.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 require employers to make appropriate arrangements to control risks to the health and safety of their employees whilst they are at work. In addition, where there are specific risks from the production, handling or other use of chemical substances, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1988--COSHH--will apply. These include requirements for exposure to these compounds to be prevented or, where this is not reasonably practicable, adequately controlled.
Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what guidelines he has issued to large companies concerning their responsibilities under the provisions of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.
Miss Widdecombe : The statutory procedure for handling redundancies, originally enacted in the Employment Protection Act 1975, was incorporated into the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidated) Act in October 1992. The provisions are explained in the Employment Department's leaflet "Redundancy Consultation and Notification". Information and advice is also available from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).
(2) what notification he received from Memory Lane Cakes, Maesycoed road, Cardiff, under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, concerning redundancies over the Christmas and new year period.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he will make arrangements for the Data Protection Registrar to inspect relevant contracts with suppliers of information technology services that involve the use of personal data held by his Department in order to check whether all appropriate arrangements in relation to the Data Protection Act 1984 have been made, and whether such contracts make provisions for the registrar to make random inspections in order to check the suppliers' compliance with the eighth data protection principle.
Mr. Scott : The Data Protection Registrar has a wide range of powers, under the Data Protection Act 1984, to ensure that all individuals and organisations holding personal data on computer systems are registered and observe the data protection principles as required by the Act. When IT services are contracted out by a data user, the contractor and the user will be subject to the application of the data protection principles, and to the registrar's powers to promote compliance with them, as provided for in the Act. It is for the registrar to decide how he will use his powers under the Act, and I do not consider that any further arrangements are necessary for him to discharge his duties effectively.
Mr. Spellar : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the level of benefit savings achieved in 1992-93 when the child support unit was acting as a shadow agency taking responsibility for the collection of existing child maintenance.
Mr. Spellar : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how the Child Support Agency takes into consideration for housing expenditure loans which have been taken out in order to provide handicapped accommodation.
Mr. Burt : Where a loan is taken out to purchase a property, the interest and capital repayments are taken into account in calculating the parent's essential expenditure. If the parent or his partner is disabled, there is no upper limit to the amount allowed. The costs of a loan are also allowed where it is taken out for improvements to a property which a child support officer considers reasonable in the circumstances.
Mr. Spellar : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what consideration has been given to introducing a level of disregard of income from invalidity benefit and disabled living allowance for Child Support Agency assessments.
Mr. Burt : Disability living allowance, which recognises the special care and mobility needs of disabled people, is disregarded in full in the assessment of child maintenance. Invalidity benefit, which is payable to people who have been incapable of work for more than 28 weeks through illness, is taken into account in the same way as net earnings would be if the parent were working.
Column 554Our proposed increase in the "protected income" provided for in the assessment of child support maintenance liability means that an absent parent whose only source of income is invalidity benefit will not be required to pay maintenance.
Mr. Burt : The vast majority of students are not liable for council tax because they live in student-only accommodation, such as halls of residence, which is exempt for council tax purposes. Only a minority of students will be liable for council tax where they share accommodation with people who are not also students. Many of them are currently able to claim help through council tax benefit if they are vulnerable students, for example, lone parents and disabled students, or part-time students. Council tax benefit can also be claimed by the partners of students and any liable student may claim second adult rebates if he or she satisfies the normal conditions of entitlement. No information is held about the number of students who are liable for council tax but are not eligible to claim council tax benefit and it is not possible, therefore, to estimate the additional cost of allowing all students access to council tax benefit.
Mr. Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what contribution his Department made to the European Year of Older People and Solidarity between Generations in terms of financial support, practical suport for particular events and the provision of information.
Mr. Hague : We have worked closely with the Department of Health, which had overall co-ordinating responsibility for the year. We provided a total of £79,000 to support the funding for the year, together with an officer on secondment to the secretariat at an approximate cost of £11,000. Officials have sat as members of both the European Community and the United Kingdon advisory committees to oversee the varied programme of events. The Benefits Agency produced a new client group leaflet to inform older pensioners and their carers of their benefits rights as part of its continuing improved customer care provisions for older people and, working with the voluntary sector, organised a co-ordinated programme of information activities nationwide.
Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps he is taking to ensure that moneys, not taken up by applications to the independent living fund 1993 in the current financial year, will still be earmarked for the living expenses of severely disabled people.
Payments to the fund are made on a monthly basis according to the most recent estimates of its present and future commitments. Normal Government accounting rules apply to any unallocated provision.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he has made of the administration from Northern Ireland of Department of Social Security benefits to Doncaster ; if this procedure is currently under review ; and if he will make a statement.
Source : 1990 and 1991 family expenditure surveys.
Mr. Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the number of pensioners who will not receive the full 50p and 70p increases in the pension in compensation for VAT on fuel because they neither qualify for a full state pension nor claim income-related benefits.
Column 556At 31 March 1993, 937,610 retirement pensioners resident in Great Britain received a pension at less than the standard rate, 135,940 of whom were in receipt of income support, and both benefits were paid by a combined order book.
Information regarding the number receiving income support and retirement pension at less than standard rate where payment is made separately is not available.
Information regarding the number receiving retirement pension at less than standard rate and an income-related benefit other than income support is not available.
Mr. Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will give the proportion of (a) men and (b) women who deferred drawing their state pension in each year since 1988 for which figures are available.
The table shows the estimated percentage of men aged 65 to 69 and women aged 60 to 64 in Great Britain who were not in receipt of retirement pension, invalidity benefit or widow's benefit in the years 1988 to 1993. Included in the percentage figures are those who did not have underlying entitlement to retirement pension and therefore were not deferring drawing state pension.
Year |Percentage of men |Percentage of women |aged 65-69 in Great|aged 60-64 not in |Britain not in |receipt of |receipt |Retirement |of Retirement |Pension, Invalidity |Pension |or Invalidity |Benefit or Widow's |Benefit |Benefit -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1988 |6 |26 1989 |6 |28 1990 |2 |26 1991 |3 |25 1992 |3 |24 1993 |2 |23
Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how much is paid in housing benefit, to how many households, each year in (a) Ealing, (b) London and (c) England ; and if he will make a statement.
Housing Benefit expenditure and recipients Ealing London England |Expenditure|Cases |Expenditure|Cases |Expenditure|Cases |£ millions |000s |£ millions |000s |£ millions |000s ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1988-89 |24 |16 |683 |553 |3,099 |3,228 1989-90 |36 |18 |821 |524 |3,518 |3,122 1990-91 |42 |19 |1,062 |553 |4,269 |3,214 1991-92 |69 |17 |1,468 |595 |5,418 |3,368 Notes: Expenditure figures have been rounded to the nearest million. Caseload figures are averages and rounded to the nearest thousand. They also include estimates for non-responding authorities. Information is supplied for rent rebate and rent allowance cases only-rate rebate cases are excluded from the figures for 1988-89 and 1989-90.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many (a) 16-year-olds and (b) 17-year-olds currently receive housing benefit in the Doncaster area ; and what percentage this represents of those in receipt of housing benefit.