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Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many accidents in (a) the United Kingdom and (b) Bosnia have involved the RB44; and what was the cause of these accidents.

Mr. Soames: Since its introduction into service, 25 accidents have been reported which have involved the RB44--22 in the UK, two in Bosnia and one in Germany.

Except for one in Bosnia, where a vehicle overturned on a greasy road, all the accidents were of a minor "road traffic" nature. In seven cases, the MOD driver was not at fault, the other 17 can be attributed to driver error.

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the current position in relation to the RB44 Army light vehicles at Larkhill.

Mr. Soames: There are 33 RB44s currently located at Larkhill. They were issued to meet the approved requirements of the two Royal Artillery units stationed there.

The vehicles are currently out of use while a steering under braking defect is investigated and are subject to appropriate maintenance to ensure they do not deteriorate.

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the Army light vehicle capability; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Soames: The Army light vehicle fleet is currently able to meet all its tasks. As a result of "Options for Change", all units have had their vehicle requirements scrutinised to ensure that they are suitable for the units' new roles. A review of future requirements and developments in the light fleet area is currently being undertaken by my Department.


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Somalia

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what part United Kingdom naval forces have played in aiding the withdrawal of (a) Indian and (b) Pakistani UN troops from Somalia.

Mr. Soames: Indian UN troops completed their withdrawal from Somalia in December 1994 under their own arrangements. United Kingdom naval forces were not involved. The Royal Navy has deployed a ship to support the withdrawal of the remaining elements of the UN force, including the Pakistani contingent.

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what part United Kingdom forces have played in the withdrawal of United Nations troops from Somalia.

Mr. Soames: I refer the hon. and learned Member to the answer that I gave the hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Harris) on 30 January, Official Report, column 545 .

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what logistical support the United Kingdom is providing for United Nations operations in Somalia.

Mr. Soames: The United Kingdom has made a ship available to support the operation to withdraw United Nations forces from Somalia. No logistic support is being provided.

Drug Abuse

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what advice on drug abuse is available to British forces serving in the former Yugoslavia on behalf of the United Nations.

Mr. Soames: All service personnel, wherever they are serving, are aware of the armed forces' policy on the misuse of drugs. Army personnel serving in the former Yugoslavia were informed of the Army's intention to introduce compulsory random testing in January 1995.

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make a statement on the incidence of drug abuse among British forces serving in the former Yugoslavia on behalf of the United Nations;

(2) how many members of the British forces serving in the former Yugoslavia on behalf of the United Nations and of what rank have been the subject of (a) investigation and (b) disciplinary proceedings for drug abuse.

Mr. Soames: One corporal, two lance corporals and four private soldiers have been investigated for alleged drug offences in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Of these, one lance corporal and three private soldiers are awaiting disciplinary proceedings. No evidence was found against the other service men investigated. At present, investigations are being conducted into alleged drug offences by two further lance corporals and one private soldier. Although we view all cases involving the misuse of drugs with concern, the total number of personnel investigated represents less than 1 per cent. of the British forces serving in the former Yugoslavia.

Consultants

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are his latest estimates of the expenditure on all external consultants, including management consultants, for each year since 1987, in 1994 prices, for


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his Department and its agencies; and what are the quantified annual cost savings which such expenditure has resulted in.

Mr. Soames: Individual budget holders in my Department have delegated powers to employ external consultants as they think fit within the limit of their resources and consistent with all requirements for propriety and value for money.

The information requested is, therefore, not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Diversification

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he last met representatives of local authorities to discuss defence diversification.

Mr. Freeman [holding answer 20 December 1994]: In the course of implementing the decisions of the recent defence costs study, local authorities' representatives are consulted as and when necessary to facilitate, where possible, productive use of sites following withdrawal of my Department's activity.

The suitability of specific schemes for funding under the EC's Konver programme is a matter for the DTI.

EMPLOYMENT

Investigations

Mr. McAllion: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what firms have been investigated by his Department or agencies in the last five years; and what was the reason in each case.

Miss Widdecombe: In the last five years, the Employment Service. an agency of the Employment Department, has successfully prosecuted 215 collusive employers--that is, those who actively encourage their work force to claim unemployment benefits fraudulently. The yearly breakdown is as follows:

1989 90: 6

1990 91: 9

1991 92: 40

1992 93: 55

1993 94 100

Details of individual employer investigations are not held centrally. Records are held at the Employment Service sector fraud office responsible for the investigation. There are 65 sector fraud offices throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

The Health and Safety Executive, NDPB of the Employment Department, also prosecutes those in breach of health and safety regulations. The figures for such prosecutions are given in Command Paper 2205. "The Government's Expenditure Plans 1993 94 to 1995 96: Employment Department Group and earlier papers".

It would not be possible to obtain details of individual employers and companies prosecuted in the last five years except at disportionate cost.

Contractors

Mr. McAllion: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what safeguards ensure that his Department


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or agencies do not engage firms as contractors that have been investigated for breaches of the law.

Miss Widdecombe: Employment Department contracts require contractors to take reasonable measures to ensure that their employees are not drawing benefit and are legal residents of the United Kingdom. A revised contract will allow termination of the contract if the contractor's behaviour is prejudicial to the Department's interests of reputation.

Previous records are taken into account, as is any substantiated evidence of illegal activities.

If it were discovered after the award of a contract that a contractor had been found guilty of an offence which had a material bearing on his ability to perform the contract, appropriate action would be taken.

Mr. McAllion: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the contractors who have been removed from the Department's approved list of contractors in the last year.

Miss Widdecombe: Contractors leave the supplier lists for many reasons, most of which have nothing to do with issues of propriety. Three suppliers were removed from the Department's approved suppliers list in the last year. The names of our suppliers are confidential.

Burns International

Mr. McAllion: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment which contracts let by his Department or agencies have been awarded to Burns International in the last year.

Miss Widdecombe: None at present, though it is the intention of the Employment service to award three contracts to Burns International from 3 April 1995.

Burns International was also used three times on a casual basis by the Health and Safety Executive's estates management contractor to guard scaffolding overnight whilst renovations were carried out to the HSE area office in Edinburgh. That work finished in June 1994.

Earnings

Mrs. Wise: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many workers have earnings (a) above the national insurance contributions maximum payments ceiling and (b) below the lower earnings limit; and how many in each case are women.

Mr. Oppenheim: It is estimated that in April 1994 there were 3.1 million employees earning above the national insurance upper earnings limit and 3.1 million employees earning below the national insurance lower earnings limit. The corresponding numbers for women were 0.5 million and 2.3 million respectively.

Training and Enterprise Councils

Mr. Rowe: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how the credit rating of training and enterprise councils is assessed; and how contractors on the TECs can ascertain it.


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Mr. Paice: The Government do not check the credit ratings of training and enterprise councils. They keep in touch with TECs' own statements of their financial position through regular scrutiny of their management accounts, which they receive on a

commercial-in-confidence basis.

The Government also examines TECs' annual statutory accounts, which they are required to lodge with this Department by 31 July and with Companies House by the end of the January following each financial year.

Until the date by which the statutory accounts have to be lodged at Companies House, they are commercial-in-confidence, but as this Department receives them, copies are placed in the Library. Credit rating organisations in the private sector offer assessment of TECs as part of their normal business. These would be available to training providers as are the statutory annual accounts lodged with Companies House.

Coal Mining

Mr. Gareth Wardell: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many men aged 55 years and over were employed in British coal mines as underground workers for each of the past 10 years.

Mr. Oppenheim: Estimates of the numbers of employed persons by industry are collected by the Employment Department's "Labour Force Survey". However, no information is available for the age group requested, because the sample size is too small to provide reliable estimates.

Jobseeker's Allowance

Sir John Stanley: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether it is his policy that those administering the jobseeker's allowance be set financial targets for disqualifying claimants of unemployment benefit; and whether any of their pay will be related to the financial outturn for unemployment benefit under the performance-related pay policy.

Miss Widdecombe: There is no policy of setting targets for disqualifying claimants.

Mr. McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what special help will be provided for directing persons from minority groups who are seeking entitlement to the jobseeker's allowance.

Miss Widdecombe [holding answer 6 February 1995]: The Employment Service currently provides help for people from minority groups through specialist inner city officers and outreach officers. Key leaflets are also produced in the main ethnic minority languages. Interviews with clients whose first language is not English and who need help with translation are arranged to take place in the client's own language or with a translator. These provisions will continue when the jobseeker's allowance is introduced.

Mr. McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what criteria will be used to specify the skills required by Employment Service officers in undertaking the role of assessor for the purposes of entering into the jobseeker's agreement.

Miss Widdecombe [holding answer 6 February 1995]: The criteria will be based on what is needed to ensure that the jobseeker clearly understands the entitlement conditions and how these relate to the local labour market.


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A full programme of training is being prepared for Employment Service staff before the proposed introduction of the jobseeker's allowance.

Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment in relation to the jobseeker's allowance, what is the composition of the business assurance committee; how often it has met; and what is its cost.

Miss Widdecombe [holding answer 6 February 1995]: The Employment Service and Benefits Agency have both set up business assurance committees to ensure that the jobseeker's allowance is developed in accordance with the business needs of each agency. Although set up in slightly different ways, each committee is made up of representatives from the agency's field organisation and from its head office. The committees meet, as necessary, and the only costs incurred above normal staff salaries are travel costs.

South Thames TEC

Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the training providers for South Thames TEC currently known to the receiver; and what assessment he has made of whether the list is comprehensive.

Mr. Paice: There are 124 youth training and training for work providers, and four South Thames enterprise programme providers contracted to South Thames TEC currently known to the receiver. To the best of the Department's knowledge, this list is comprehensive.

Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment, pursuant to his answer of 30 January, Official Report , column 539 , when the information relating to contractors to the South Thames TEC will be placed in the Library.

Mr. Paice: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to her on Tuesday 7 February 1995, Official Report , column 183 .

Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what has been the cost to (a) South Thames TEC and (b) his Department of the use of outside consultants, accountants and the receiver in investigating the financial difficulties at South Thames TEC from 28 November 1994 to date.

Mr. Paice: I am not in a position to estimate the cost to South Thames TEC of the use of outside consultants and accountants. This is a matter for the receiver. The cost to the Department of the use of outside consultants and accountants was £32,182 as of December 1994. This is the latest estimate available. As is normal commercial practice, the receiver's costs are a first charge on the assets of South Thames TEC. These have not yet been fully established.

Consultants

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what are his latest estimates of the expenditure on all external consultants, including management consultants, for each year since 1987, in 1994 prices, for his Department and its agencies; and what are the quantified annual cost savings which such expenditure has resulted in.

Miss Widdecombe: Information in the form requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


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Wages

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what was the average wage of workers in England in each year since 1989.

Mr. Oppenheim: The average wage of adult full-time workers in England is published in table X5 of part A of the "New Earnings Survey" reports. That of adult part-time women is published in table 180 of part F. Copies of these reports are available in the Library.

TREASURY

Paris Club

Sir Thomas Arnold: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with the Cuban Minister of Finance and Prices about the Paris Club; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nelson: I met Mr. Rodriguez, the Cuban Minister of Finance and Prices, on 30 January 1995. We discussed a variety of issues, including Cuba's external debt and the Paris Club.

International Bodies (Parliamentary Scrutiny)

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures he intends to bring forward to improve parliamentary scrutiny of activities at (a) the World Bank and (b) the International Monetary Fund.

Mr. Nelson: The United Kingdom's contribution to the World Bank group is part of the aid programme and as such is subject to scrutiny from Parliament and the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. Parliamentary approval is also required for the UK's contribution to capital increases or replenishments. The UK's quota as the IMF is financed from the national loans fund, which is audited by the National Audit Office. The accounts are laid annually before Parliament. We believe these existing arrangements provide ample scope for oversight by Parliament.

Civil Servants

Mr. McAllion: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the terms under which the Treasury civil service jobs unit was established; how many civil servants work in it and for how long; and what is the annual cost of the unit's operation.

Mr. Nelson: The purpose of the unit is to help surplus Treasury staff to find jobs in other parts of the civil service. It takes up part of the time of a grade 5 and a personal secretary who both have other duties. The unit was set up in November 1994 and will remain in being, although not necessarily with the same staff, while there are staff surpluses to resolve. The annual cost is approximately £20,000.

Mr. McAllion: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what is the annual cost of the career decision seminars, the career transition or self- marketing workshops and the career centres which his Department has established for civil servants leaving the Treasury;

(2) what contract his Department has given to Focus Ltd., professional outplacement consultants; how long the contract will last; and how much it is costing the Treasury.


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Mr. Nelson: Following a competition, a two-year contract was let with Focus Ltd. in September 1994 to provide a range of services, including counselling, career decision seminars, self-marketing and other job-search training on a call-off basis. As use of the contract depends on demand, it is not possible at present to give costs on an annual basis. Expenditure to date is £23,546. The career centre is staffed by a member of the Treasury at an annual cost of approximately £17,000.

World Summit on Social Development

Miss Lestor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to seek international support for his multilateral debt initiative at the World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen.

Mr. Nelson: I understand that the world summit on social development will discuss the problems of poor countries when it convenes in March, including developing countries' debt. We shall encourage participants at the summit to support the Chancellor's multilateral debt initiative.

The next step for the multilateral debt initiative will be to secure support from other members of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. We intend to pursue this at the institutions' spring meetings in April.

Rules and Regulations

Mr. Steen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the rules and regulations in his Department which have been withdrawn in the last 12 months, or which his Department plans to withdraw in the next 12 months; and what impact this will have on his Department's manpower.

Mr. Nelson [holding answer 6 February 1995]: The areas of the Treasury which deal with public expenditure control and pay are keeping the level of Treasury delegations to Departments under regular review, but have not withdrawn any rules or regulations in the last 12 months.

The rule requiring the Treasury to certify new ordinary save-as-you-earn schemes has been removed.

The Department is continuing to identify rules and regulations for withdrawal. Those for withdrawal in the next 12 months will be announced as and when consultations are completed.

The manpower implications are taken into account in the Department's central manpower plans, which will be published in the departmental report on Her Majesty's Treasury in March.

Single European Currency

Ms Quin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what research he has commissioned or intends to commission in order to ascertain the views of British business and financial concerns towards the establishment of a single European currency.

Mr. Nelson [holding answer 7 February 1995]: Treasury Ministers and officials have frequent meetings with representatives of the business sector, including financial services, to hear their views on a variety of subjects.


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European Investment Fund

Ms Quin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the establishment and operation of the European investment fund as described in the conclusions of the presidency of the Edinburgh summit.

Mr. Nelson [holding answer 8 February 1995]: The establishment of a European investment fund, or EIF, was one element of the declaration on promoting economic recovery in Europe, agreed by the European Council at Edinburgh, in December 1992. The new fund was envisaged as a joint venture, with a share capital of 2 becu, £1.55 billion, allocated between the European investment bank, 40 per cent. the EC itself, 30 per cent., and EC financial institutions and banks, 30 per cent. It was proposed that the EIF should provide guarantees for loans to trans-European networks, TENs, and to small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs, throughout the Community. These guarantees would be a form of insurance to the lender, for which a premium would be charged. It was also envisaged that the EIF could, after two years of operation, take equity stakes in SMEs or TENs, subject to the agreement of its shareholders.

The creation of the fund required an amendment to the statute of the EIB, which is itself a protocol of the treaty of Rome. Therefore it could not be established until the treaty had been amended, and the amendment ratified by all EC member states. This process was concluded, and the amendment came into force, on 1 May 1994, and on the 25 May the governors of the EIB--EC finance Ministers, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer as the UK's representative--took the formal decision to


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