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Mr. Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the provision for a transferor authority affected by structural change under the Local Government Act 1992 to seek information from a transferee; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: We intend that the individual orders made under section 17 of the Local Government Act 1992 will provide for transferor and transferee authorities alike to co-operate with one another so as to facilitate the implementation of structural change.
Ms Corston: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether article 20 of the draft Avon Structural Change (Order) grants powers to district councils transferring functions to South Gloucestershire which it does not grant to the county council also transferring powers to the new authority.
Mr. Curry: Our decision to abolish the counties of Avon and Humberside was announced on 25 October 1994. In accordance with the Local Government Act 1972, when we abolish the counties of Avon and Humberside, we must at the same time provide for their areas to be included in other counties.
Mr. Curry: The Local Government Commission is responsible, under the Local Government Act 1992, for undertaking periodic electoral reviews of local government areas in England, as well as for conducting structural and boundary reviews at the direction of the Secretary of State. I expect that, once the current round of structural reviews is complete, its main business will be with the periodic electoral reviews.
Mr. Frank Cook: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what considerations underlay his decision to appoint a serving local authority chief executive to the membership of the Audit Commission; and what assessment he has made of the impact of this appointment on the independence of the Audit Commission from those bodies it supervises.
Mr. Curry: The Secretary of State appoints to the Audit Commission those whom he considers have the most appropriate skills and experience. Mr John Foster was appointed on this basis. Members do not represent particular interests, and the independence of the Audit Commission is not affected by the appointment of a serving chief executive, any more than it has been by the appointment in the past of serving local authority members.
Column 8451 April in their annual housing investment programme returns. Data for individual local authorities for 1994 can be found in section A of the "1994 HIP1 All Items Print", a copy of which is in the Library.
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Field) of 13 February, Official Report, columns 514 15, what funding his Department has (a) set aside from current funds and (b) negotiated as extra funds from Her Majesty's Treasury to give to the Energy Saving Trust after it is designated under section 153 of the Environment Protection Act 1990.
Mr. Curry: Following representations, I have concluded that the six metropolitan fire and civil defence authorities outside London face unique circumstances: as single service authorities with relatively small budgets, operating within detailed requirements governing minimum service provision, their flexibility is exceptionally constrained. I therefore propose to revise the provisional capping criteria that will apply to them.
My original proposals would have limited single service fire and civil defence authorities that are budgeting above their standard spending assessment to an increase in budget compared to 1994 95 of a 0.5 per cent. I now propose to revise the provisional capping criteria that apply to the metropolitan fire and civil defence authorities. The effect of my intended criteria is:
i. any increase in budget of more than 2 per cent. over 1994 95 would be considered excessive if it gives rise to a budget requirement above the authority's SSA;
ii. any increase of more than 1.25 per cent. would be considered excessive if it gives rise to a budget requirement over 5 per cent. above SSA;
iii. any increase of more than 0.5 per cent. would be considered excessive if it gives rise to a budget requirement over 10 per cent. above SSA.
The capping criteria are necessarily provisional. We cannot take decisions on capping until authorities have set their budgets for 1995 96.
Mr. Boateng: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, what steps he plans to take to ensure that every individual wishing to complain about treatment at the hands of the Legal Aid Board is automatically given the board's leaflet about its complaints procedures as soon as the complaint is drawn to the board's attention.
Mr. John M. Taylor: The Legal Aid Board does not require that complaints are lodged with it on a particular form. On receipt of a complaint--whether by telephone, letter, or on the form included in its complaints leaflet--the board takes immediate steps to resolve the problem. Where appropriate, a copy of the complaint leaflet is sent to the complainant but this would not be appropriate in every case--for example where the complaint has been satisfactorily resolved immediately over the telephone.
Mr. Boateng: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, what mechanisms exist for setting and ensuring that Legal Aid Board staff responsible for assessing expert medical and other reports possess the necessary scientific or professional expertise.
Mr. John M. Taylor: The Legal Aid Board ensures through its quality management system, which includes detailed work allocation, supervision procedures and quality control mechanisms, that all work is allocated to staff with the appropriate degree of training and experience to deal with it.
Mr. Boateng: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, what mechanisms exist for setting and ensuring minimum standards for quality of expert medical and other reports in legally-aided cases.
Mr. John M. Taylor: Individual solicitors are responsible for obtaining expert medical and other reports in legal aid cases. The Legal Aid Board does not, itself, commission such reports. The board has introduced its franchising arrangements to ensure that there is a quality assured legal aid service available to clients. It is a mandatory requirement of franchising that all franchisees have documented procedures for using experts which include, among other things, clear criteria for selecting experts which must be followed and arrangements for checking opinions and reports when they are received to ensure they adequately provide the information sought.
Mr. Boateng: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, what mechanisms exist to ensure that, where a legally aided individual makes a complaint about a particular Legal Aid Board official or office, that individual's application for legal aid will not be prejudiced.
"justifiability of decision-making" as one of its guiding principles and seeks to ensure that all decisions are taken objectively and are uninfluenced by prejudice of any kind. To ensure that it meets this objective, it has obtained accreditation as a quality assured organisation under BS EN ISO 9002, formerly BS 5750. The board uses its quality management system--which includes detailed and comprehensive supervision, work allocation and quality control procedures--to ensure that decisions in individual cases are made objectively.
Ms Harman: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment (1) how many employees have not given re-authorisation for their trade union membership subscriptions to be renewed, as laid down by the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993;
(2) if he will list the abuses of the process of employer check-off of trade union membership subscription remedied by the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993;
(3) if he will issue guidance to employers regarding information that they should give to employees about whether their trade union membership has been cancelled under the terms of the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993 because of failure to re-authorise;
(4) how much the process of seeking re-authorisation of trade union membership subscriptions under the terms of the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993 by trade unions has cost so far in terms of (a) labour costs, (b) administrative costs and (c) overall, breaking the information down by every trade union; (5) what is the consequence for any individual who does not re-authorise the renewal of trade union membership subscriptions as laid down by the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993; (6) if he will make a statement on the outcome of the first three -yearly exercise of re-authorisation of trade union membership subscription renewal laid down by the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993.
Mr. Oppenheim: There is no statutory requirement for re- authorisation of union membership subscriptions. Provisions in the 1993 Act require prior written consent from the worker, and renewed consent at least every three years, if an employer is lawfully to make check-off deductions from a worker's pay for union membership subscriptions.
The Department has no information on how many workers have consented to such deductions since these provisions came into force. The case for changes to the law on check-off as it then stood was set out in the 1991 Green Paper "Industrial Relations in the 1990s". Paragraphs 6.18-6.27 of the Green Paper identified the potential problems which could arise for individuals, as well as particular instances of concern about the operation of check-off arrangements. Guidance on the law is given in the Department's published "Guide to the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993"- -Ref: PL 945--and in the booklet "The Payment of Union Subscriptions Through the Check-off"--Ref: PL 944. Both were published when the provisions came into force.
How employers may have responded to these requirements, and the consequential costs that they, or trade unions, may have incurred, are matters for them. No employer is required to offer check-off facilities.
If an employee does not authorise the continuance of such deductions, it will be unlawful for the employer to continue to make them.
I am unaware of any complaints having been made to industrial tribunals about unlawful deduction of check-off
Column 848since the provisions came into effect. This may indicate that employers are complying with the law.
Ms Harman: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list by occupation, the work force in (a) full-time employment and (b) part -time employment in Islwyn in each year since 1979, also expressing the information by gender.
Mr. McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is his Department's responsibility for ensuring that non-employed status YT trainees are paid their basic weekly allowance; who is responsible for reimbursing training providers who make such payments in advance but who are not paid by their local training and enterprise council; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Paice: The Department contracts with training and enterprise councils for the delivery of youth training. The contract requires TECs to ensure that non-employed YT trainees are paid a regular training allowance at least to the level specified by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. The arrangements TECs make with training providers is governed by the contracts agreed between the parties. Recovery of any ensuing debts is subject to the law of contract.
Mr. McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what guidance he has issued to TEC directors about (a) their legal liability for the activities of their TEC and (b) the availability and advisability of taking out personal indemnity insurance to cover such liabilities; what information he has about the number of TECs and TEC directors who have insured themselves against such risks; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Paice: None. Training and Enterprise Councils are private companies. It is for TEC directors to take such advice as they consider appropriate as to their liabilities and the advisability of personal indemnity insurance. The TEC operating agreement requires a TEC to take out and maintain adequate insurance against any losses and damages arising from fault or negligence on the part of the TEC including, but not limited to, employers' liability; public liability; directors' and officers' liability; professional indemnity and damage to property. Information relating to indemnity insurance is not collected by the Department.
Mr. McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment, what is the liability of the directors of South Thames TEC for the losses incurred before the official receivers were appointed; how these directors will be asked to account for their actions as directors for the year up to the appointment of the receivers; and if he will make a statement.
Column 849with company law. I understand that the directors are preparing a statement on the companies affairs for the receiver in accordance with the requirements of the Insolvency Act 1986.
Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment, pursuant to his answer of 19 January, Official Report , column 619 , what was the total number of redundancies at South Thames TEC from December 1994 to date.
Mr. Paice: I understand from the receiver that 68 employees of South Thames training and enterprise council have so far been made redundant. This include employees of Routeways, a wholly owned subsidiary of South Thames TEC.
Mr. Austin-Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received from hon. Members and others regarding the future of the Greenwich Training Company; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Paice: I have received a number of representations from hon. Members and others about the future of the Greenwich Training Company. I understand that a meeting was held on Wednesday 15 February at which the directors of the Greenwich Training Company agreed to continue trading. The decision was made after the directors received assurances from South London training and enterprise council that it will contract with the company for 1995 96 if its proposals for assuming TEC responsibilities in the London borough of Greenwich are successful.
Mr. McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment (1) if he will list the costs of legal aid made available to complaintants by the Commission for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action, broken down by (a) those relating to arrangements for legal aid, (b) legal representation to complainants, (c) legal advice given to inquirers and (d) sundry costs associated with cost of proceedings and preliminary activities associated with the preparing for those proceedings, for each year since 1993;
(2) how many complainants provided their own legal representatives or advisers and were reimbursed by the Commission for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action, broken down by (a) nature or category of complaint and (b) category of company, organisation or individual for each year since 1993;
(3) how many of the inquiries and complaints made to the Commission for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action were from (a) trade union members, (b) executive members of companies or organisations and (c) non- executive members of companies or organisations, broken down by (i) managerial and professional grades and (ii) manual and non-manual workers for each year since 1993; (4) how many applications made to the Commission for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action were withdrawn for each year since 1993;
(5) how many cases were brought to the courts by the Commission for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial
Column 850action for each year since 1993, broken down by (a) the number of cases lost and (b) the number of cases successfully brought by the commission on behalf of complainants for each year since 1993; (6) if he will list the costs of legal aid and legal advice made available to complainants, broken down by (a) nature or category of complaint and (b) category of complainant or inquirer paid for by the Commissioner for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action for each year since 1993;
(7) how many (a) formal applications and (b) inquiries have been received by the Commission for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action in each year since 1993;
(8) if he will list the formal applications made to, and inquiries received by the Commission for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action in each year since 1993 broken down by the categories of applicant and inquirer;
(9) if he will list the previous legal, industrial relations or labour law work experience of Gill Rowlands, prior to her appointment as Commissioner to the Commission for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action;
(10) if he will give a breakdown of all income received by the Commission for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action for each year since 1993;
(11) if he will give a breakdown of the nature of complaints made to the Commission for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action for each year since 1993;
(12) if he will list those organisations in the private and public sectors who received a mailshot letter from the Commission for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action for (a) 1993 and (b) 1994;
(13) if he will list the overseas visits and activities undertaken by the Commissioner for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action for each year since 1993;
(14) if he will list United Kingdom visits and activities undertaken by the Commissioner for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action for each year since 1993;
(15) if he will list the request for information regarding the role of the Commissioner for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action from overseas countries in each case giving a summary of the nature of the information provided for each years since 1993;
(16) if he will list the costs of the overseas and United Kingdom visits made by the Commissioner for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action for each year since 1993 breaking down the individual costs incurred for each country visited;
(17) what are (a) the salary costs and (b) the number of hours worked in respect of the Commissioner for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action for each year since 1993;
(18) how many staff currently work for the Commission for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action; and what are the direct and indirect pay costs and operating expenses associated with the provision of his service, for each year since 1993.
Mr. Oppenhiem [holding answers 15 February 1995]: There is no Commission for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action. The independent Commissioner for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action can
Column 851provide material assistance to individuals contemplating or taking certain proceedings against trade unions.
The present commissioner, Mrs. Gill Rowlands, has also, since 1988, been the Commissioner for the Rights of Trade Union Members. Prior to her appointment, she was chairman of the Liverpool and Manchester industrial tribunal from 1978 to 1988, and was for 12 years a justice of the peace on the Wirral bench. She read law at Kings college, London and was called to the Bar at Gray's Inn in 1952.
The salary costs of the Commissioner for the relevant years are: 1993 94 £8,299.00 (August 1993 to March 1994)
1994 95 £15,213.44 (April 1994 to date)
The Commissioner is contracted to work for seven and a half hours, one day per week.
I understand from the Commissioner that:
One formal application for assistance was made in 1994 which was withdrawn in the same year. The application was made on the basis that the National Union of Teachers was organising industrial action without the protection of the statutory immunities.
Some 140 inquiries were received by her office in 1993 94, and 476 in the 1994 95 year (to date).
No legal costs have been incurred or paid.
No information on the occupations or union membership of those making inquiries or complaints to the Commissioner is held. Apart from grant in aid from my Department, no income has been received by the commissioner.
No mailshots were carried out in 1993. In 1994, mailshots were sent to:
Citizens advice bureaux
Employment Service offices
Training and enterprise councils
All Members of Parliament
No overseas visits or activities have been undertaken. It is not possible to list all the visits and activities undertaken in the United Kingdom as to do so would, in certain instances, breach the Commissioner's guarantee of confidentiality. However, they include meetings with lawyers, Government Departments, academics and others, presentations, public speaking engagements and media interviews.
Requests for information regarding the role of the commissioner were received from the following overseas countries:
Request for information on the commissioner's role and on any other United Kingdom industrial relations matters. A copy of the commissioner's guide and a selection of Employment Department leaflets were provided.
A guide and annual report were requested by a student at Shimane university. They were provided.