Previous Section Home Page

Mrs. Bridget Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many forests in the United Kingdom are owned by Forestry Commission commissioners ; and whether such commissioners are in a position to benefit financially themselves from forestry privatisation.

Sir Hector Monro [holding answer 16 February 1994] : The following Forestry Commission commissioners own forests in the United Kingdom :

Sir Raymond Johnstone CBE : 34 hectares

Sir Michael Strang Steel Bt : 540 hectares

Mr. C. R. Woosnam CBE : 80 hectares

These forests are privately owned. Any changes in the future ownership of the Forestry Commission's forests would not therefore affect them and would not put these commissioners in a position to benefit financially.


Column 195

Dr. Strang : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland in which counties for England, Wales and Scotland, the largest area of Forestry Commission woodland has been disposed of in accordance with the terms of the Forestry Act 1981 in absolute terms and as a proportion of total Forestry Commission land.

Sir Hector Monro [holding answer 10 February 1994] : The information is given below.


Country            |County/Region     |Area sold         |Area as propor-                      

                                      |(hectares)        |tion of FC land in                   

                                                         |county/region                        

                                                         |(percentage)                         

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

England            |North Yorkshire   |3,993             |17                                   

Wales              |Dyfed             |4,088             |12                                   

Scotland           |Strathclyde       |18,723            |14                                   

Prisons (Visiting Committees)

Mrs. Fyfe : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will continue the present practice of all regional councils and some district councils having representation on visiting committees for prisons.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 21 February 1994] : The draft revised Prison and Young Offenders Institutions (Scotland) Rules issued for consultation last September included proposals to change the size of, and local authority representation on, the visiting committees for Scottish adult penal establishments. We are still considering all the comments received, but a draft will be laid before Parliament in the next few months.

Mrs. Fyfe : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will exempt Cornton Vale prison from his plans to confine prison visiting committees' local authority representation to those of the district council and the regional council in which the prison lies.

Lord James-Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 21 February 1994] : The draft revised Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Scotland) Rules issued for consultation last September included proposals to change the size of, and local authority representation on, the visiting committee for the adult penal establishment at Cornton Vale. We are still considering all the comments received, but a draft will be laid before Parliament in the next few months.

Development Corporations

Mr. Donohoe : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects each of Scotland's development corporations to cease letting their existing properties when they become vacant.

Mr. Stewart [holding answer 21 February 1994] : In the period to their wind-up, development corporations will pursue their policies for letting vacant industrial and commercial properties and land until such time as there is an agreement for the sale or transfer of the property concerned. As to vacant housing, it is for each development corporation to decide in the period prior to the ballot of tenants whether to re-let the house or to sell it to a housing association or approved landlord as part of the corporation's initiatives to achieve diversification of tenure.


Column 196

EMPLOYMENT

Fireworks

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is his policy on the importation of fireworks.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : Imported fireworks supplied in the United Kingdom must meet the same safety standards as those which are manufactured in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the estimated value of fireworks imported into the United Kingdom annually for each year since 1990 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : The information requested is not available.

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received concerning the importation of dangerous fireworks into the United Kingdom.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : I have received representations from several sources expressing concern that a reduction in safety standards may result from the removal of import licensing for fireworks following the creation of the European single market. I have been given assurances by the Health and Safety Executive that controls are being maintained by the restrictions on supply introduced by the Placing on the Market and Supervision of Transfers of Explosives Regulations 1993.

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what measures he proposes to prevent the importation into the United Kingdom of fireworks that are dangerous to users and spectators or likely to be a fire hazard.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : Following the establishment of the single European market, import licence controls on all explosives, including fireworks were removed on 1 December 1993. These controls were replaced by a requirement under the Placing on the Market and Supervision of Transfers of Explosives Regulations 1993 for explosives supplied in the United Kingdom whatever their origin, to be authorised by the Health and Safety Executive. In the case of fireworks, this requires compliance with British standard 7114 or an equivalent standard.

Brixham Jobcentre

Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will set out the duties of the eight staff at the Fish Quay office in Brixham and the nature of their administration support to the Brixham jobcentre.

Mr. Michael 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. Anthony Steen, dated 22 February 1994 :

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the duties of the eight staff at the Fish Quay office in Brixham and the nature of their administrative support to the Brixham Jobcentre.


Column 197

The eight staff employed at the Fish Quay, Brixham are involved in the maintenance of claims to unemployment benefits of approximately 1,400 claimants and the payment of training allowances to 50 trainees on Training for Work. The office also maintains the claims to benefit made by Share Fishermen ; is responsible for making referrals to the Benefits Adjudication Office ; and for liaising with the local Benefits Agency.

However, because the premises are split, the ability of the staff at the Fish Quay to operate as part of the Back to Work Team linking with advisers and vacancy staff in the Jobcentre is reduced. I hope this is helpful.

Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how much was spent on refurbishing the Brixham jobcentre in each of the financial years since 1989-90.

Mr. Michael 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. Anthony Steen,dated 22 February 1994 :

The Secreary of State has asked me to reply to your question about how much was spent on refurbishing the Brixham Jobcentre in each of the financial years since 1989-90.

I repeat my earlier response to your Parliamentary Question No. 7067 that no funds have been spent on refurbishment in 1992 and 1993. During the period 1989 to 1991 a contract was awarded in October 1991 to the value of £19,259 for alterations and refurbishment and further amount of £22,895 was spent on furniture, telephone equipment and new signage.

I hope this is helpful.

Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will set out the obstacles preventing the Brixham jobcentre from offering a full service mentioned in the chief executive's letter of 9 February to the hon. Member for South Ham.

Mr. Michael 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. Anthony Steen, dated 22 February 1994 :

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the obstacles preventing the Brixham Jobcentre from offering a full service mentioned in my earlier letter of 9 February 1994. The main obstacle to providing a full service is the space available within the two premises in Brixham. The space requirements calculations carried out in April 1993 indicated a total space requirement for both offices at Brixham of approximately 7,500 square feet. Currently the total space available in both Employment Service (ES) premises is 4,515 square feet. Such a deficit has an obvious detrimental effect to the range of customer services that can be provided, namely :

(a) virtually no privacy can be provided for clients discussing personal circumstances/problems whilst making their benefit claims or discussing their back to work plans with advisory staff ; (

(b) limitations on the siting of Information Technology (IT) equipment have reduced the efficiency and effectiveness of the Jobcentre services. With such limited space the siting of equipment is also causing overcrowding problems reducing the effectiveness of contacts between staff and clients ;

(c) the job display area is cramped and not conducive to calm consideration of job vacancy details ;

(d) there are no facilities for employers to interview job seekers at the Jobcentre ;


Column 198

(e) operating a split site for such a small team (20 in total) reduces flexibility and effectiveness ; with 12 staff at the Jobcentre and eight at the Fish Quay. There is a cost of approximately £70 per month in transporting claims and other paperwork between the two offices ;

(f) in the integrated Jobcentre service currently provided by most Jobcentres now in South West Region the Benefit and Job broking activities work successfully together in a Back to Work Team concept that has proved very successful in terms of service to clients and employers. Such a model is not possible operating as Brixham does in split premises.

I hope this is helpful.

Employment Service

Mr. Callaghan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the work of the Employment Service to help the unemployed.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : The Employment Service is an executive agency reporting to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. It operates through a network of over 1,000 local offices throughout Britain. ES operates a job-broking service, helping to fill employers' vacancies and placing unemployed people into jobs. In 1992-93, ES made 1.47 million placings of unemployed people ; in this operational year up to December, it has made 1.26 million placings, 12 per cent. above its profiled target. ES aims especially to help long-term unemployed people, and others at a disadvantage in the labour market ; 27 per cent. of the 1992-93 placings were of long-term claimants. ES operates a comprehensive system of advisory interviews for unemployed clients. Around 8.5 million such interviews were carried out in 1992-93. At these interviews clients are given information about advisory, job search and training programmes which are available to help them back into work. As well as running programmes itself, ES acts as a gateway to those run by the training and enterprise councils.

ES has a particular duty to give employment help to unemployed people with a disability. To give support to its local offices in doing this, it has a network of 71 area placing assessment and counselling teams, staffed by disability employment advisers. ES also helps unemployed people by income maintenance : by promptly and accurately paying unemployment benefit and income support to clients entitled to receive them.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State wrote to the ES chief executive to congratulate the agency on its performance in the first half of this operational year. There have been falls in unemployment at an earlier stage in the recovery than anticipated by most observers. The efforts of the ES have assisted in implementing a labour market policy fostering an environment for growth.

Earnings

Mr. Spellar : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment, pursuant to his answer of 11 February, Official Report, column 494, what is his Department's estimate of the relationship between employment levels and earnings.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : I refer the hon. Member to the Treasury report "The Relationship between Employment and Wages" published in 1985. A copy of the report is available in the Library.


Column 199

Barnsley/Doncaster Training and Enterprise Council

Mr. Patchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will ensure that Barnsley/Doncaster TEC uses its reserves to further local business ; if he will publish a breakdown of the current unused reserves of the Barnsley/Doncaster TEC ; how many training programmes are currently being undertaken ; and how many employers are providing places for the unemployed within the Barnsley/Doncaster TEC area.

Miss Widdecombe : Efficiency savings made by training and enterprise councils are reinvested in their work to stimulate economic growth in their local communities. Questions about the reserves of any TEC are for each TEC to answer.

The training programmes operated by Barnsely and Doncaster TEC are : youth training ; training for work ; learning for work and business start-up. Although a significant number of youth training and training for work participants undertake work experience on employers' premises as part of their training programmes, information on the number of training places provided by employers is not available.

Part-time Workers

Mr. Callaghan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what measures he intends to take to provide employment protection for part-time workers employed by their existing employer for less than five years.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : Part-time employees already enjoy important statutory rights, regardless of their length of service or hours worked. The Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993 significantly added to these rights and I have no plans to extend them further.

Labour Statistics

Mr. Patchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the current level of unemployment in the Barnsley, East constituency.

Miss Widdecombe : In January 1994, the level of unadjusted claimant unemployment in the Barnsley, East constituency was 3,872.

Mr. Callaghan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what are the current unemployment figures for the north-west.

Miss Widdecombe : In the north-west region, seasonally adjusted claimant unemployment stood at 308,100 or 10.3 per cent. of the work force in January 1994. This is a fall of 26,400 compared with a year ago.

Mr. Callaghan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what are the latest figures for the numbers of unemployed ; and what was the corresponding figure in 1979.

Miss Widdecombe : On the consistent seasonally adjusted basis, claimant unemployment in the United Kingdom stood at 2,787,600 in January 1994 and 1,100,100 in January 1979.

Mr. Robert Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what are the latest unemployment figures available for (a) Harrogate and Knaresborough and (b) Ripon and York travel-to-work areas.


Column 200

Miss Widdecombe : Figures for unadjusted claimant unemployment in January 1994 are given in the table.


Travel-to-work area |Level              |Percentage                             

                                        |rate                                   

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Harrogate           |2,786              |5.6                                    

Ripon               |901                |7.1                                    

York                |7,615              |6.8                                    

Knaresborough is covered by the Harrogate travel-to-work area.

Contracting Out (Pension Rights)

Mr. Henderson : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what guidance he has issued about the effect of the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978 and the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 on the transfer of pension rights in services in his Department which are subject to contracting out.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 18 February 1994, Official Report, column 1010.

Employment (Young People)

Mr. Callaghan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what new measures he has planned to help young people in the north-west to find employment.

Miss Widdecombe : The local employment service and training and enterprise councils deliver a wide range of employment, enterprise and training programmes to help young people in the area find the best and quickest route to employment. In the north-west region, the number of young people in the guarantee group who have waited for more then eight weeks for a youth training place has fallen by 93 per cent. in the last year. The Government intend to improve the range of opportunities available to school leavers still further in the north-west and elsewhere by introducing modern apprenticeships in 1995.

Carnon Consolidated

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he was consulted by the President of the Board of Trade in regard to the employment effect of the decision not to grant Carnon Consolidated a further loan.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : It is not the Department's policy to answer questions on discussions between Ministers.

Rail Projects (London)

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on the subject of maximising jobs for Londoners in work connected with the Jubilee line extension and other rail projects ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : It is not the Department's policy to answer questions on discussions between Ministers.


Column 201

Workstart Schemes, Norfolk

Sir Ralph Howell : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what were the results of (a) North Norfolk action pilot scheme and (b) each of the four workstart schemes set up in 1993 after their first six months of operation showing in each case (i) the number of persons participating, (ii) the number of persons who have subsequently moved into full-time employment and (iii) the number of persons who have ceased to claim unemployment and related benefits after being called in for interviews for work on the schemes.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : I refer the hon. Member to the replies I gave to him in connection with North Norfolk Action on 18 February, Official Report, column 1024.

On 27 January the number of people in employment supported under workstart in each of the pilot areas was as follows :


Area               |Number       

---------------------------------

South London       |86           

East Kent          |57           

Tyneside           |42           

Devon and Cornwall |4            

All those participating in the scheme are in regular employment, and will therefore have ceased to claim unemployment and related benefits.

Remploy

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment when he last visited a Remploy factory ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State last visited a Remploy factory in June 1992. He visited the Swansea factory and was delighted to see at first hand the role Remploy is playing in providing employment opportunities for people with severe disabilities.

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is his estimate of the numbers of Remploy workers.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : In 1993-94 Remploy Ltd. is employing an average of around 8,550 people with severe disabilities.

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will visit the Remploy factory, Wrexham, Clwyd.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : I have been advised by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that he currently has no plans to visit the Remploy factory, Wrexham, Clwyd.

Earnings

Mrs. Bridget Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what were the average weekly earnings of (i) full-time males, (ii) full- time females and (iii) part-time females in 1978-79 and in the latest year for which data are available in (a) Great Britain, (b) England and (c) London ; and what was (c) as a percentage of (b) in each case.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : Information on average weekly earnings of full -time males and full-time females can be


Column 202

found in tables 12 and 13 of part A of the new earnings survey for each of the years requested. The corresponding information on part-time females is in table 180 of part F. Copies of these are in the Library.

Work Permits

Mr. Bayley : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list for each year since 1979 how many applications for work permits were made on behalf of Cypriot nationals ; and what proportion were successful in each year since 1979.

Miss Widdecombe : The information requested is available only at disproportionate cost. The number of work permits issued to Cypriot nationals recorded by the overseas labour service computer system, introduced in 1984, is as follows :


       |Number       

---------------------

1984   |49           

1985   |75           

1986   |83           

1987   |71           

1988   |110          

1989   |138          

1990   |120          

1991   |85           

1992   |70           

1993   |53           

Mr. Bayley : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many applications for work permits were made, and what proportion were successful, in each year since 1979.

Miss Widdecombe : Information for the full period requested is not available. The number of applications for work permits recorded by the overseas labour service computer system, introduced in 1984, and the proportion which were successful in each year are as follows :


             |Applications|Proportion               

                          |approved                 

                          |Per cent.                

----------------------------------------------------

1984         |20,814      |57.6                     

1885         |24,999      |66.3                     

1986         |27,499      |68.0                     

1987         |28,877      |70.5                     

1988         |34,016      |97.1                     

1989         |41,629      |91.0                     

1990         |47,145      |92.5                     

1991         |<1>43,519   |87.3                     

1992         |56,192      |67.5                     

1993         |56,700      |66.6                     

<1> Changes made to the arrangements for recording  

applications.                                       

Job Link Programme

Mr. Rendel : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what measures his Department has taken since 1992 to extend customised training under the job link programme to include inner-city areas.

Miss Widdecombe [holding answer 18 February 1994] : Customised training support for job link is provided by training and enterprise councils where appropriate through training for work and its predecessor,


Column 203

employment training. From April 1992 to August 1993 it is estimated that 140,000 inner-city residents in England were helped under those programmes.

Financial Sector Employees

Mr. Raynsford : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish a table setting out his Department's figures of the total number of people employed in banking, insurance and finance in Greater London in the latest quarter for which figures are available and the equivalent quarters of 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992.

Miss Widdecombe [holding answer 21 February 1994] : The available information is given in the table :


Next Section

  Home Page