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Jobseekers

Sir Ralph Howell: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what assessment he has made of the effect of the provision in the Jobseekers Bill regarding penalties in respect of leaving employment after three months on the willingness of jobseekers to remain in employment.

Miss Widdecombe: Unemployed people should be encouraged to try work that may be unfamiliar to them. The employment on trial rule therefore exempts certain claimants from sanction if they take a job and then give it up within a specified period. We regard it as important that this incentive should apply at the point at which claimants are expected to consider work outside their usual occupations. For this reason, in jobseeker's allowance the rule will apply after three months' unemployment, which is the maximum permitted period during which search for jobs can be restricted to the claimant's usual occupation.


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Training

Mr. Robert Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what was the total value of grants received from the European Commission for training schemes and advice to companies and individuals in the last financial year.

Miss Widdecombe: Much of the largest source of European Community grants for training schemes and advice on training is the European Social Fund. In the last financial year, 1993 94, ESF grants totalling £528 million were received by training providers and others in Great Britain.

Women

Ms Short: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what Government structures exist to review the implementation of the UN's Nairobi forward-looking strategies for the advancement of women; and what such review has taken place and been published.

Miss Widdecombe: The Cabinet sub-committee for women's issues is responsible for reviewing and developing Government policy on issues of special concern to women, and for overseeing its implementation. The Employment Department has responsibility within Whitehall for co-ordination of policy on women's issues, including the Nairobi forward-looking strategies.

In preparation for the Fourth World Conference on Women to be held in Peking in September 1995, UN member states report on progress in the key areas of the Nairobi forward looking strategies. The UK's national report was published at the beginning of October. The report has been widely distributed and copies are available in the Library

Ms Short: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment which Whitehall Departments have women's units; and what is their location, responsibilities and staffing levels.

Miss Widdecombe: Government policy is to integrate consideration of women's issues into policy development, rather than have specific "women's units". A large number of policy officials therefore have responsibility to ensure that women's concerns are properly taken into account. In addition, many departments have equal opportunities units within their personnel sections, which promote equality of opportunity regardless of sex, race and disability. It is not possible to disaggregate the exact numbers of such staff devoted to equal opportunities for women.

Ms Short: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what Government structures exist to review the implementation of the UN convention on the elimination of discrimination against women; and what such review has (a) taken place and (b) been published.

Miss Widdecombe: The Cabinet sub-committee for women's issues is responsible for reviewing and developing Government policy on issues of special concern to women, and for overseeing its implementation. The Employment Department has responsibility within Whitehall for co-ordination of policy on women's issues, including the convention for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. Since ratifying the convention in 1986, the Government have submitted two progress reports to the United Nations, in 1987 and 1991. Both these reports were


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published. A third report is currently being prepared, and will become freely available in March 1995.

Ms Short: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the current membership of the women's issues working group; and how many times the group has met over the past year.

Miss Widdecombe: The group's current membership is set out in the following table. The group has met twice since January 1994. Women's Issues Working Group Membership, December 1994 The Rt. Hon. Michael Portillo, MP

Secretary of State for Employment

Miss Ann Widdecombe, MP

Minister of State for Employment

Ms Kamlesh Bahl

Chairwoman, Equal Opportunities Commission

Mrs. Kay Coleman OBE

Chief Executive, Harveys & Co (Clothing) Ltd.

Baroness Denton of Wakefield CBE

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office

Ms Sheila Forbes

Director of Human Resources, Reed Elsevier (UK) Ltd.

Dr. Ann Hogg

Chairman of Council, Girls' Public Day School Trust

Lady Howe

Chairman, Business in the Community's Women's Economic Development Team, Chairman, Broadcasting Standards Council

Mr. Graham Millar

Managing Director, Nestle Foods Division

Mrs. Cecilia Motley

Former Director, Action Resource Centre

The Hon. Mrs Lindy Price CBE

Chairman, Powys Health Care NHS Trust

Mrs. Sue R▀rstad MBE

Chairman and Managing Director, Poppies (UK) Ltd

Mrs. Margaret Seymour

Managing Director, Seymour Swimming Pool Engineers

Ms Sue Slipman, OBE

Director, National Council for One Parent Families

Mrs. Joan Smyth

Chair and Chief Executive, Equal Opportunities Commission for Northern Ireland.

Sex Equality Branch

Ms Short: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the powers and responsibilities of the sex equality branch; and if he will make a statement.

Miss Widdecombe: The branch is responsible for the Employment Department's objective to counter sex discrimination in the labour market and to promote women's interests in the workplace and beyond.

Construction Industry

Mr. Robert Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give the figures for employment in the construction industry for each year since and including 1989, broken down into employees and self- employed.


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Mr. Oppenheim: The information is given in the following table:


Employment in the construction industry: Great Britain, spring of     

each year, not seasonally adjusted                                    

                                          |(Thousands)                

Year          |Employees    |Self-employed|Total                      

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

1989          |1,210        |895          |2,105                      

1990          |1,237        |889          |2,126                      

1991          |1,154        |812          |1,966                      

1992          |1,067        |739          |1,806                      

1993          |988          |727          |1,715                      

1994          |991          |775          |1,766                      

Source:                                                               

Labour Force Survey                                                   

Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what assessment he has made of the impact of the proposed reduction in housing association investment on employment prospects in the construction industry.

Miss Widdecombe: The Department has made no such assessment.

Health and Safety Executive

Mr. Robert Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many inspections were carried out by the Health and Safety Executive in each of the last five years in each category of premises inspected.

Mr. Oppenheim: Information about the number of planned inspections carried out by the Health and Safety Executive in each of the last five years is published in the Health and Safety Commission annual reports for 1991 92, annex 5 and 1993 94, annex 2, copies of which are available in the Library. A breakdown for each category of premises inspected is not available.

Labour Statistics

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many (a) men and (b) women together with the overall total, were in full-time employment (i) in each standard region and (ii) in Great Britain in December in each of the last 10 years; and in each case and for each year what proportion this figure represented as a percentage of the total population.

Mr. Oppenheim: The information can be obtained from the NOMIS database, which is available in the Library. However, the full-time, part- time regional breakdown should not be used prior to June 1991 as the information is invalid.

Ms Harman: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will provide available information on the proportion of people who (a) leave the register within three months, (b) leave the register to enter a job within three months and (c) leave the register to become economically inactive within three months and have been unemployed for (i) six months, (ii) one year and (iii) two years.

Mr. Oppenheim [holding answer 12 December 1994]: It is estimated that about half of all people who become claimant unemployed leave the count within three months and two thirds within six months. Information is not routinely available on the destinations of those leaving claimant unemployment but past surveys indicate that the


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majority of people go into jobs. Information on those who leave the count within three months of reaching certain duration thresholds is given in the following table:


<

People leaving claimant unemployment by duration (GB)       

                    |Percentage who left                    

                    |unemployment                           

                    |within a further                       

Duration of         |3 months                               

unemployment                                                

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

Six months          |36.5                                   

One year            |35.2                                   

Two years           |24.5                                   

Special Advisers

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment which of the special advisers serving in his Department during the last five years were subject to positive security vetting.

Miss Widdecombe [holding answer 13 December 1994]: All special advisers are currently required to have positive vetting.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

North America Now"

21. Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress is being made by his Department with the "North America Now" campaign to boost British trade and investment with North America.

Mr. Baldry: Since its launch in March 1993, the "North America Now" campaign has produced a full programme of activities in north America and in the United Kingdom, which are helping British business to reinforce and improve its competitiveness in the world's wealthiest trading bloc.

The value of the United Kingdom's exports to north America in 1993 was 24.5 per cent. higher than in 1992.

Chemical Weapons Convention

22. Mr. Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if it is Her Majesty's Government's policy to be one of the first 65 countries to ratify the chemical weapons convention.

Mr. David Davis: The United Kingdom is committed to the effective implementation of the chemical weapons convention and will ratify the convention once the necessary implementing legislation is in place. The legislation will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time and other Government legislative priorities permit.

Syria

23. Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consultations he had before agreeing to the change in the status of Syria with respect to the EC.

Mr. Douglas Hogg: The views of interested parties were taken into account before the decision was taken by the European Union to lift the arms embargo on Syria.


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Kenya

24. Sir David Steel: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about Her Majesty's Government's discussions with President Moi on his recent visit to London.

Mr. Baldry: President Moi visited London to address the CBI conference: Kenya--the future for investments and business. During the visit, he had full discussions on a range of subjects of bilateral and regional importance with my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the noble Baroness Chalker. This provided an opportunity to encourage President Moi to continue the process of economic and political reform, on which Kenya has made significant progress over the past three years.

European Political Union

Sir David Knox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to meet his counterparts in the European Union to discuss greater political union.

Mr. David Davis: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I have regular discussions on a wide range of EU issues with our European counterparts at meetings of the General Affairs Council. The next meeting of the Council is scheduled for 19 and 20 December.

China

26. Mr. Alton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last raised human rights abuses in China with the Chinese Government.

Mr. Goodlad: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary most recently raised human rights with the Chinese authorities when he met the Chinese Foreign Minister on 29 September in New York.

Israel

27. Mr. Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Britain's relations with Israel.

Mr. Douglas Hogg: Our relations with Israel are excellent.

UN Secretary-General

28. Sir Michael Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met the

Secretary-General of the United Nations; and if he will indicate the main topics which were discussed.

Mr. Douglas Hogg: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary had a brief meeting with the UN Secretary-General in the margins of the conference on security and co-operation in Europe summit on 5 December. More substantive discussions were held during the Secretary-General's visit to London on 25 October. A number of regional issues were discussed at both meetings.

Bosnia

29.

Mr. Soley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on British policy in Bosnia.


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Mr. Douglas Hogg: Our policy, which we share with the other members of the contact group, remains to bring about a peaceful settlement in Bosnia by negotiation. We fully support the UN's efforts to achieve a ceasefire around Bihac and the rest of Bosnia. This would provide a platform for a resumption of political negotiations on the basis of the contract group plan.

35.

Ms Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received concerning the future role of NATO in Bosnia.

Mr. David Davis: I have received no formal representations on the future role of NATO in Bosnia. The United Kingdom fully supports NATO's continuing assistance to the efforts of the UN to provide humanitarian relief and to contain the conflict in Bosnia. These efforts cannot, however, be a substitute for an agreement by the parties on a negotiated settlement which we believe offers the only durable solution to the crisis.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is NATO's role in the war in Bosnia.

Mr. David Davis: NATO's role in the Bosnian conflict is to enforce the UN arms and trade embargoes and to support UN peacekeeping operations, in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions. It provides naval assets to the joint Western European Union--NATO Operation Sharp Guard. It also provides aircraft to enforce the no-fly zone in Bosnian airspace and, at UN request, to assist and protect UNPROFOR in the performance of its mandate.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what considerations led to the recognition of Bosnia- Herzegovina.

Mr. Douglas Hogg: The United Kingdom recognised Bosnia-Herzegovina on 7 April 1992. This decision was taken following consideration of the report of the arbitration commission of the conference on Yugoslavia.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the historical, ethnic and cultural grounds for the nature of the United Kingdom's diplomatic relations with (a) Estonia and (b) the Bosnian Serbs.

Mr. Douglas Hogg: We have rebuilt the close relations we enjoyed with Estonia before 1940 based on our strong support for her independence and democratic and economic development. The United Kingdom does not have diplomatic relations with the Bosnian Serbs.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the countries which protested when the Bosnian Muslims launched attacks from Sarajevo and Bihac against the Bosnian Serbs.

Mr. Douglas Hogg: We are not aware of any such protests.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has about the ethnic composition of Bosnia-Herzegovina before recent hostilities began.


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Mr. Douglas Hogg: According to the 1991 census, the population of Bosnia-Herzegovina was:


          |Per cent.          

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

Muslims   |43.7               

Serbs     |31.3               

Croats    |17.3               

Others    |7.7                

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which countries have recognised

Bosnia-Herzegovina as a state; at what dates; and what arguments were put forward for doing so.

Mr. Douglas Hogg: Bosnia-Herzegovina has been recognised by: Bulgaria, date of recognition 15.1.92; Turkey, 6.2.92; Iran, 8.3.92; Libya, 16.3.92; all EU member states, 7.4.92; USA, 7.4.92; Croatia, 7.4.92; Egypt, 16.4.92; Saudi Arabia, 17.4.92 and Russia, 28.4.92. We recognised Bosnia- Herzegovina following consideration of the report of the arbitration commission of the conference on Yugoslavia.


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