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Mr. Paice: Women returners and lone parents may enter training for work without having to be registered as unemployed. They may train on a part-time basis and receive child care support. The Department is also promoting women's training and employment opportunities in England through the fair play initiative.
There are 12.1 million women economically active, and women make up 45 per cent. of the work force in employment. Since 1984, there has been a 14 per cent. increase in women working full time and a 19 per cent. increase in women working part time.
The number of self-employed women has risen by 80 per cent. since 1981. The proportion of women in management and professional jobs increased from 25 per cent. in 1984 to 30 per cent. in 1994. The pay gap between men and women continues to narrow and now stands at approximately 20 per cent.--the lowest it has ever been.
Column 140In 1992, the latest year for which data are available, the UK had the second highest female labour market participation rate in the European Union, as then constituted, after Denmark.
In the EU, only the UK has a lower unemployment rate for women than men.
To help this process of improvement, the Government have introduced specific policies and programmes. For example, workplace nurseries have been exempted from income tax since 1990.
The Employment Department is channelling £45 million through training and enterprise councils and local enterprise companies to help create up to 50,000 new out-of-school child care places for the over-fives.
From October 1994, help with child care charges is available to families receiving family credit, disability working allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit. Child care charges of up to £40 are offset against earning when benefit entitlement is calculated. In the longer term, an estimated 150,000 families are expected to benefit from this new measure, including 50,000 families who are expected to take up work as a direct result of this change. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education is consulting on ways to achieve my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's target to provide, over time, a pre-school place for all four-year-olds whose parents wish to take it up.
In addition, "Fair Play for Women"--a joint Government/Equal Opportunities Commission partnership--was launched in April 1994 to tackle the barriers facing women in economic and social life. Regional consortia have been established in each of the 10 Government office regions in England and each consortium is developing and implementing an "Agenda for Action" based on local priorities. Chwarae Teg, set up in south Wales in 1992, now covers the whole of Wales in a programme to expand women's participation in the work force at all levels.
In December 1994, the Government established a development unit on women in science, engineering and technology--SET--to promote the role of women in SET.
In other fields, there has also been much progress. The proportion of public appointments held by women increased from 23 per cent. in 1990 to 30 per cent. in September 1994.
In health, the NHS is now screening over 80 per cent. of eligible women nationally for cervical cancer.
In 1992, more than two thirds of breast cancer screening programmes exceeded the 70 per cent. screening uptake target.
On domestic violence, the Government have set up interdepartmental groups at official and ministerial level to co-ordinate Government action to tackle this serious issue. Government-funded publicity campaigns have been mounted in England, Scotland and Wales to increase awareness of domestic violence. In Northern Ireland a publicity campaign, jointly funded by the Northern Ireland Office, the Department of Health and Social
Column 141Services and the Northern Ireland Women's Aid Federation is due to be launched very shortly.
Mr. Portillo: I believe that Government policies, to improve the operation of the labour market and to help the unemployed into jobs, have contributed to the fall in the number of long-term unemployed.
29. Mr. Nigel Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what further discussions he has had with the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress about provisions for training.
Mr. Oppenheim: Claimant unemployment in the United Kingdom has fallen by 582,000 since its peak in December 1992 and is now well below the EC average. I believe that Government policies to improve the operation of the labour market have been an important factor.
Miss Widdecombe: We have not discussed the matter directly in the Social Affairs Council, but the Government have reaffirmed that they will not accept the draft social chapter which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister refused to agree at Maastricht.
Mr. McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the basis and source for the estimate that some 80,000 unemployed people are currently studying under the 21-hour rule; and how he intends to monitor the impact that the reduction to guided learning hours will have after April 1996; and if he will make a statement.
Column 142from claims and the labour force survey. The figure includes those studying under the 21-hour rule.
This is not a reduction. Courses of up to 16 guided learning hours may, of course, be supplemented by private study as long as this does not affect the individual's availability for, or efforts to find work.
Surveys will continue to be used to monitor the number of people studying part time while looking for work. We do not expect any change in the numbers of claimants helped or in the costs of the scheme.
Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how much money was not drawn by the South Thames training and enterprise council from his Department in respect of activity undertaken before period 9 in the year 1994 95.
Mr. Paice: South Thames training and enterprise council was given a budget by the Employment Department for the whole of 1994 95 to cover training and business support programmes. I expect that this budget will be totally drawn down by the end of the financial year.
Ms Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what funds (a) from his Department, and (b) from European sources which were available to South Thames TEC prior to the appointment of receivers, had not been claimed at the time by the TEC.
Mr. Paice: South Thames training and enterprise council was given budgets for the whole of 1994 95 to fund Employment Department training and business support programmes and European social fund programmes. I expect that these budgets will be totally drawn down by the end of the financial year.
Mr. Thurnham: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many disabled people were employed in (a) Remploy, (b) local authority workshops, (c) voluntary run workshops, (d) local authority sheltered placements and (e) voluntary organisation sheltered placements in each of the last five years.
Miss Widdecombe: 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. Peter Thurnham, dated 7 March 1995:
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the number of disabled people who were employed on the Supported (formerly Sheltered) Employment scheme during the last five years. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of the Agency.
The information you requested is shown in the table below. This shows the number employed at 31 March each year in each type of provision. The Remploy numbers shown relate to a yearly average. I hope this is helpful.
|31 March 1990|31 March 1991|31 March 1992|31 March 1993|31 March 1994 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Remploy |8,738 |8,630 |8,591 |8,576 |8,654 Local Authority Workshops |4,276 |4,132 |3,905 |3,639 |3,544 Voluntary Workshops |1,200 |1,177 |1,155 |1,199 |1,164 Local Authority Placements |3,010 |3,338 |3,438 |3,502 |3,602 Voluntary Placements |3,426 |3,500 |3,548 |3,708 |3,859
Mr. Alan Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received from employers and business organisations calling for firms employing fewer than 20 people to be exempted from a legislative requirement not to discriminate against disabled people; and if he will place such representations in the Library.
Miss Widdecombe: Seventy-two employers or employer associations responded to the Government consultative document "A Consultation on Government Measures to Tackle Discrimination Against Disabled People" on the issue of whether small firms should be excluded from the proposed employment right for disabled people. Of those that expressed a clear preference, six employer associations and one employer were in favour of exempting small firms and three employer associations and 10 employers were against.
It is not our policy to publish particular responses to the consultation, but a copy of the analysis of responses has been placed in the Library.
Sir Andrew Bowden: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment (1) how many people who have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities would be considered as (a) unsuitable for employment, (b) less suitable for employment than other people and (c) significantly impeded from performing their employment duties.
(2) what estimate he has made of the number of people, (a) by type of disability and (b) by age who have a progressive condition which will lead to them (i) registering as disabled or (ii) having a physical or mental impairment which will have a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
Miss Widdecombe: The labour force survey provides information about people who have a disability or health problem which they expect to last over 12 months and which affects the type of work that they can do. The available information from the summer 1994 LFS is shown in the following table.
It is not possible to say how many people with a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities would be considered unsuitable for employment, or less suitable for employment than other people. This would depend on the particular circumstances of the individual, and the nature of the employment in question. Nor is it possible to estimate by type of disability and age the number of people who have a progressive condition and age the number of people who have a progressive condition which would lead them to registering as disabled. Registration under the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1994 is voluntary and only a minority of disabled people choose to register.
Statistics are not available on people who have a progressive condition which will lead to them having a physical or mental impairment which will have a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
Numbers of people of working age who have a health problem or disability which limits the king of paid work they can do, and which they expect to last more than 12 months by type of disability and age Great Britain-Summer 1994 Thousands |16-24 |24-49 |50-59-64 |All ages |year olds |year olds |year olds<1> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ All |3,696 |384 |1,610 |1,703 Arms, legs, hands, feet, back and neck |2,196 |120 |930 |1,146 Difficulty in seeing |155 |32 |69 |55 Difficulty in hearing |114 |14 |44 |56 Skin conditions, allergies |162 |51 |78 |32 Chest and breathing problems |356 |80 |156 |120 Heart, blood, pressure and circulation |222 |-<2> |67 |151 Stomach, liver, kidney and digestion |80 |-<2> |44 |29 Diabetes |75 |14 |34 |27 Depression and bad nerves |96 |-<2> |59 |30 Epilepsy |51 |10 |35 |-<2> Severe or specific learning difficulties |48 |23 |20 |-<2> Mental illness, phobia and panics |46 |-<2> |28 |13 Other problems or disabilities |92 |16 |44 |31 <1> Women aged 50-59 Men aged 50-64 <2> Estimates below 10,000 are not shown. Source: Labour Force Survey
Sir Andrew Bowden: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many people registered under section 6 of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 are (a) below pension age, (b) pension age to 74, (c) 75 to 84 and (d) 85 years and older, by type of disability and sex.
Miss Widdecombe: The register of disabled people established by the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 is kept locally, by the Employment Services's placing assessment and counselling teams. The number of names in the register is counted annually, in April. On 18 April 1994, there were 374,182 registered disabled people: of these, 277,294 were male and 96,888 were female.
I regret that information is not collected centrally on the numbers of registered disabled people by type of disability, or by age band. There is no upper age limit for registration. Disabled people who intend to remain in the labour market after reaching pension age may continue to be registered as disabled if they meet the eligibility criteria. However, the majority of registered disabled people are likely to be below pension age.
Sir Andrew Bowden: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many people in the register of disabled persons maintained under section 6 of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 would be considered to be (a) unsuitable for employment, (b) less suitable for employment than other people and (c) significantly impeded from performing their employment duties.
Miss Widdecombe: I regret that information is not available in the form requested. The eligibility criteria for registration as disabled under the Disabled Persons (Employment) Acts include being capable of some form of employment, under either open or supported conditions. However, the register does not classify
Column 145registered disabled people in terms of their relative suitability for employment or the extent to which they may be impeded in performing particular employment duties.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for employment what role will be played by adjudication officers in deciding whether a claimant's application to undertake guided learning in further education complies with clause 7(8) of the proposed jobseeker's agreement.
Miss Widdecombe: The jobseeker and the employment officer will seek to draw up a jobseeker's agreement. If they are unable to agree, either party can refer the proposed terms and conditions of the jobseeker's agreement to an adjudication officer.
The adjudication officer will determine if the proposed terms and conditions of the agreement--including any part-time study--would allow the jobseeker, if he complied with them, to meet the conditions of jobseeker's allowance. In making his determination, the adjudication officer will expect to have regard to the legislation and any relevant case law. He will also be assisted by any guidance issued by the chief adjudication officer.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how employment officers will evaluate whether or not private study periods undertaken by claimants within their jobseeker's contract in support of part-time guided learning interferes with attempts to seek employment.
Miss Widdecombe: The jobseeker will be asked to provide the employment officer with evidence that he is available for, and actively seeking, employment. This will normally happen when the jobseeker attends the jobcentre for an interview. If, in the employment officer's opinion, the evidence is insufficient, he will refer the matter to an independent adjudication officer for a determination.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to encourage employment officers to build in literacy training into the jobseeker's contract in cases where it is evident the claimant of benefit has fared poorly in genuine attempts to secure employment due to illiteracy or poor literacy.
Miss Widdecombe: The jobseeker's agreement will record the steps that a jobseeker will take to get back to work. It is not a contract. If the employment officer and the jobseeker identify that a jobseeker's jobsearch would benefit from help with his reading or writing, this can be noted on the agreement and appropriate action taken. Help can be provided, if appropriate, through supportive job clubs, special restart courses and training for work.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for employment, pursuant to his letter of 16 February to all hon. Members, what evaluations were made using what database and what projections, in coming to the conclusion that there would be no reduction in the number of benefit claimants entitled to benefit under the new proposals for people enroling on part-time courses while claiming jobseeker's allowance.
Miss Widdecombe: Calculations were based largely on the results of a survey carried out by the Further Education Funding Council in 1993 94. This provided separate details of the distribution of student's guided learning hours for students on courses classified as full time and part time. Currently, students pursuing full-time
Column 146courses cannot qualify for social security benefits, while those studying part time may do so, subject to meeting the other benefit conditions.
From these data, it is possible to deduce the number of students on courses classified as full time whose weekly guided learning hours were up to 16, relative to the number formerly classified as part time whose weekly hours were more than 16. The new threshold, based on this information, is designed to allow the same number of people to study while receiving benefit as do so currently.
Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what plans his Department has to evaluate the effectiveness of the Health and Safety Executive "Breathe Freely" awareness campaign of occupational asthma; what consideration he has given to extending it beyond April 1995; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Oppenheim: In May 1995, the Health and Safety Executive will be launching a major new three to four-year campaign to help improve employers' management of health risks. The first year will include a major emphasis on respiratory sensitisers. This campaign will therefore build on work of the "Breathe Freely" campaign. During the autumn, the HSE intends to commission an independent evaluation of the impact of the "Breathe Freely" campaign. In the longer term, the HSE will continue to monitor the incidence of occupational asthma to determine the effectiveness of the campaigns.
Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many employers have been prosecuted for failing to protect workers from exposure to hazardous substances that include respiratory sensitisers under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1994.
Mr. Oppenheim: None. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1994 came only into force on 16 January 1995. Under the COSHH Regulations 1988, from October 1989 until December 1994 there were a total of 282 prosecutions of which 103 were under regulation 7 of COSHH, which specifically requires employers to prevent or control exposure to substances hazardous to health.
Mr. Hardy: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many accidents have occurred in coal mines (a) in each month of 1994 and (b) since the beginning of 1995; and how many of them in each period have resulted in serious injury or death.
However, information is available for the period January to March 1994 and is shown in the following table.
|Total |Major |accidents |Fatalities|injuries ------------------------------------------------------- January |75 |0 |24 February |61 |0 |19 March |57 |0 |8
Figures for the year April 1994 to March 1995 have not been validated and will not be confirmed until the Health and Safety Commission's annual report is published in November 1995. The statistics will be available by month from that date.
Mrs. Ann Clwyd: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what special facilities are available from the Export Credits Guarantee Department to British exporters of defence equipment over and above the support granted to British exporters of other goods and services.
Mr. Page: Since the coal subsidy was announced in March 1993, 10 offers have been made. To date, £9,053,711 has been paid in respect of almost 800,000 tonnes of coal delivered since April 1993. The majority of offers have been to the private sector, most helping to sustain new production from pits where British Coal had ceased operations.
It was envisaged at the time of the White Paper that the subsidy would only be temporary. The Government indicated then that the scheme would finish at about the time of privatisation. The "Guidelines for Applicants" explain that the subsidy is available only for the period up to the end of March 1995. Only deliveries made before then could be eligible for subsidy. Any applications which remain outstanding should be submitted to my Department no later than 31 March 1995.
Mr. Allen: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will identify the key issues arising out of the G7 conference on the information society; and what steps his Department will be taking to address them.
Mr. Ian Taylor: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Shaw) on 2 March 1995, Official Report , columns 715 16 . The main area of follow-up to arise from the G7 conference will be the implementation of the 11 collaborative pilot projects
Column 148which were launched by the G7 Ministers to demonstrate the potential of the information society. The UK will be playing an active role in the implementation of these projects. I shall be asking the multi-media industry advisory group--which I established to advise me on multi-media and information highways--to advise on how best to take this work forward. I am also in contact with other Government Departments.
The DTI will be looking in more detail at standards,
interconnection and intellectual property issues raised at the conference.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the aggregate payments made to the Ministry of Defence, Defence Export Services Organisation or IMS Ltd. in each year since 1979 in respect of claims arising from contracts with ECGD support.
Mr. Needham: It has been the policy of successive Governments not to disclose information about the commercial relations between the ECGD and individual third parties unless the relevant parities have agreed to this. I can, however, inform the hon. Member that the ECGD has made no payments to the Ministry of Defence, of which DESO forms a part, in respect of claims on ECGD-supported contracts.
Mr. Dover: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the spending to date on Konver I funding within the United Kingdom with particular reference to the possibility of reallocating unspent funding to other UK regions.
Mr. Eggar: Konver I projects are, generally, progressing well. Some underspends have been identified, as is normal with such programmes, and where possible recommitment of grant will be made. The Konver monitoring committee will consider the position at its next meeting.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the President of the Board of Trade in respect of the information about European regional development fund and European social fund contained in the Official Report, 19 January, columns 593 94, if he will break down the figures for each local authority in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the change in the volume of United Kingdom exports of manufactures (a) to third countries and (b) to the EEC in each year between 1989 and 1992 when the deutschmark appreciated against non-ERM currencies.
Change in volume of United Kingdom exports of manufactures |(a) to countries |outside the EU |(b) to EU countries Year |Per cent. |Per cent. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1989 |+5 |+11 1990 |+2 |+12 1991 |-6 |+9 1992 |+1 |+2 Source: Tables A17 and A18 of "Monthly Review of External Trade Statistics", Central Statistical Office.
Mr. Needham: The information on the main manufacturing countries' value of trade in manufactures is given in the table. Information on the volume of imports and exports of manufactures for the UK, Germany, Sweden, and Japan is regularly published in "OECD Monthly Statistics of Foreign Trade", a copy of which is available in the Library of the House. Corresponding information for the other main manufacturing countries is not readily available and could be produced only at disproportionate cost. Unit value indices for exports of manufactures for the main manufacturing countries are regularly published by the Central Statistical Office in "Monthly Review of External Trade Statistics", a copy of which is available in the Library of the House. Corresponding information on import unit values of manufactures is not readily available, and could be produced only at disproportionate cost.
Main manufacturing countries' trade in manufactures<1> 1993 US $ millions Country |Imports|Exports ---------------------------------------------- United Kingdom |162,087|146,670 Belgium-Luxembourg<2> |88,597 |97,029 France |160,960|170,705 Germany |249,097|329,165 Italy |102,449|159,473 Netherlands |92,859 |88,754 Sweden |36,846 |46,817 Switzerland |53,204 |61,270 United States |475,052|341,238 Canada |109,601|90,638 Japan<3> |125,150|354,804 Notes: <1> Manufactures are defined as sections 5 to 8 of the standard international trade classification. <2> 1992. <3> Includes Section 9. Source: OECD series A, OECD series C, UN series D, CSO.
Column 150businesses developing closed circuit television and other kinds of support for disabled people; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ian Taylor: The normal range of industry support schemes is available to firms developing products for this market. The Department does not keep statistics in a form which would indicate the numbers of firms which may have benefited from assistance with projects involving products for the disabled.