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Column 330Officer. Following professional advice, early medical retirement may take place or, in the absence of any improvement despite advice and counselling, the inefficiency procedures may be initiated which can lead to dismissal on grounds of poor attendance.
I commissioned a review in the Agency's Personnel Group during 1994 with the objective of achieving better overall management control of sick absence cases. Recommendations from the review for strengthening the current arrangements, in particular in respect of our approach to individual cases involving regular, short-term absences, were approved by the Agency's Management Group and will be introduced in 1995. The changes will clarify the division of responsibility between personnel and operational managements, and will give more emphasis to the devolvement to managers of the front-line control measures that need to be taken immediately following the return of any member of staff after sick leave. To help implement the new arrangements, we are planning to provide revised written guidance and a bespoke training programme for all managers in the Agency. The aim will be to ensure a consistent and effective policy for the handling of sick leave cases throughout the Agency. To supplement the administrative changes and improved control measures, the review also made a number of recommendations to improve the level of general staff awareness about the negative aspects of sick absence. Accordingly, we also propose to issue a booklet for circulation to all staff that describes the impact that sick absences can have on the overall level of service that we provide to our customers, as well as the cost and efficiency implications this has for the smooth running of the department. The general aim will be to heighten awareness about individual responsibility and the impact that sick leave has on the organisation, as well as the additional pressure it imposes for immediate work colleagues.
We consider that an important factor in the success of these changes will be to achieve, as far as possible, the understanding and support of staff and the Trade Union Side. The Agency is making a clear commitment that the changes are aimed at improving the dialogue and communication that takes place when staff have sick leave problems. We have no intention of diluting or neglecting the normal duty of care that we have towards our employees and we shall continue to act reasonably and fairly towards all our staff on these issues. Finally, while it is somewhat difficult to forecast the impact these changes will have, we are, nevertheless, setting ourselves ambitious targets to reduce sick absence rates to less than 4.5% in 1995/96 and to under 4% in 1996/97. This represents achieving overall improvements equivalent to around 33% on the level of sick absences recorded last year and of about 40% on the 1992/93 figures. Letter from J. M. Rutter to Mr. David Chidgey, dated 8 March 1995:
The Minister has asked me to reply to your question about the measures being taken to combat sickness absenteeism in the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, as this is an operational matter for which I am responsible.
You are aware from my earlier letters of 20 December 1994 and 30 January 1995 of the sickness absenteeism rates in the Directorate over the last 4 years. These are well below the Civil Service average. My senior managers and I receive monthly reports of sickness absence, and the same procedures for the management of such absences are applied as in core MAFF. The Minister has advised you that these have been reviewed, and a range of measures designed to introduce even more effective controls are now being developed. These will apply also to staff in the Directorate.
Mr. Morley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will show the number of livestock, by type, exported to (a) Spain, (b) France, (c) Italy, (d) Portugal and (e) Ireland in each year since 1990.
Numbers of livestock exported from the UK, to selected countries Type |Spain |France |Italy |Portugal |Irish Republic ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1990 Bovines |0 |149,629 |592 |0 |6,377 Goats |0 |52 |0 |56 |0 Poultry |262,093 |1,785,243 |2,583,019 |103,461 |5,778,922 Sheep |173 |481,135 |812 |6 |93,007 Swine |15,468 |19,968 |8,603 |3,929 |32,640 1991 Bovines |0 |201,316 |71 |0 |767 Goats |0 |130 |1 |0 |311 Poultry |192,084 |3,641,311 |3,937,640 |102,308 |7,675,012 Sheep |185 |713,105 |13,141 |704 |104,588 Swine |13,399 |24,379 |5,589 |870 |194,512 1992 Bovines |128 |200,556 |0 |0 |3,753 Goats |0 |15 |170 |0 |4 Poultry |286,591 |2,358,855 |4,050,909 |60,127 |9,642,016 Sheep |5,341 |1,160,950 |445 |49 |65,753 Swine |11,173 |34,288 |5,284 |86 |287,889 1993 Bovines |1,816 |161,126 |994 |0 |2,108 Goats |0 |12 |0 |0 |1 Poultry |414,665 |758,793 |2,963,058 |42,391 |6,318,894 Sheep |13,771 |469,098 |15,885 |0 |0 Swine |2,191 |7,119 |10,672 |495 |84,873 1994 (January-September) Bovines |0 |170,022 |0 |0 |1,144 Goats |0 |0 |0 |0 |0 Poultry |374,765 |772,775 |3,368,263 |45,988 |7,865,037 Sheep |10,552 |440,794 |1,499 |0 |11,041 Swine |1.883 |6,412 |4,160 |830 |83,923 Source: Central Statistical Office. Note: 1993 data and that for January to September 1994, based on the new system of recording trade between EU countries ( Intrastat), are provisional. They are thought to under-record the true level or exports.
Mrs. Browning: The statutory requirements which apply to authorised quarantine premises are set out in the licences granted under article 9 of the Rabies (Importation of Dogs, Cats and Other Mammals) Order 1974. They include details on the construction and dimension of the perimeter surrounds and the requirements for the construction of the units. These conditions are designed to ensure that full rabies security is maintained while imported
animals--including non-human primates--covered by the order are in quarantine. All quarantine premises are inspected regularly by MAFF veterinary officers and at least once a week by MAFF appointed veterinary/medical supervisors to ensure that satisfactory standards are maintained.
Column 332example at a zoo. Quarantine restrictions then apply to all the animals in the unit.
Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps are taken to identify cause of death in imported primates; and what security measures are taken in these circumstances.
Mrs. Browning: Where a primate dies in quarantine, the whole carcase is sent to the Centre of Applied Microbiology and Research, Porton Down for rabies tests and post-mortem examination under secure conditions. Strict procedures have been laid down for the packaging and conveying of carcases to CAMR.
Where the animal has been sharing accommodation, all the survivors are kept in quarantine until the results of the tests are known.
Mrs. Browning: All quarantine premises must use an incinerator, or other means accepted as satisfactory by the Ministry, for the disposal of carcases, faeces, clippings, uneaten food and other waste. If possible, the incinerator should be within the perimeter fence, and enclosed.
Column 333Where the incinerator is outside the perimeter fence, it must have its own lockable fence and be inaccessible to animals, and all waste must be carried to it in leak-proof sealed containers.
Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what restrictions are placed on the movement, handling and travelling environments of non-human primates entering the United Kingdom.
Mrs. Browning: Under the Rabies (Importation of Dogs, Cats and other Mammals) Order 1974, all non-human primate imports into Great Britain have to be licensed and the animals have to spend six months in authorised quarantine premises. Animals may arrive only at designated ports and airports and must be transported to their quarantine premises by carrying agents authorised by MAFF to transport monkeys. The carrying agent must, within 24 hours of the landing, inform the Ministry of the landing of the animal and its conveyance to the quarantine premises. The veterinary/medical supervisor for the quarantine premises must also confirm the arrival of the animal to the Ministry within seven days.
Mrs. Browning: Although there is no statutory requirement to test animals for potential filovirus contamination before importation into the United Kingdom, many of the animals are tested either before or after import as part of the normal health screening by the importing companies. Since 1990, a total of about 1,000 monkeys have been tested. None has revealed any evidence of filovirus infection.
Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what guidelines are issued to persons handling imported non-human primates, promoting awareness of potential health risks and minimising the risks of infection.
Mrs. Browning: The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1994 require employers involved in work that might expose staff to biological agents hazardous to health to provide their employees with enough information, instruction and training for them to know what the risks are, and what precautions to take. To assist employers in meeting their statutory obligations, the Medical Research Council produces specific guidance on infectious hazards in simians which is entitled "The Management of Simians in Relation to Infectious Hazards to Staff".
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment (1) what action he is taking to reduce unemployment in Coventry; and what (a) job creation schemes and (b) training schemes he will initiate;
(2) what measures he proposes to tackle long-term unemployment in Coventry.
Column 334Service agency under its chief executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from R. M. Phillips to Mr. Jim Cunningham, dated 9 March 1995:
The Secretary of State for Employment has asked me, in the absence of the Chief Executive, to reply to your questions about the action being taken to reduce unemployment in Coventry, in particular, the measures to combat long -term unemployment through job creations schemes and training initiatives.
Claimant unemployment in the Coventry local authority area has fallen by nearly 22% in the twelve months to January. This was the greatest percentage reduction of any authority area in the whole of the West Midlands region. The number of long-term unemployed for the Coventry local authority area also fell by 25%, the second largest fall amongst all regional authority areas.
The number of employer vacancies notified to Jobcentres in the same area increased by 41.8% for the twelve month period ending January. This too was the largest increase in notified vacancies for any authority area in the West Midlands region. I can also report that Coventry, and the Warwickshire county, have been allocated £22.54m from the Single Regeneration Budget, calculated to lead to the creation and preservation of 2,600 new jobs, and the provision of 1,950 training places. Over 60% of funds allocated will go towards establishing projects for disadvantaged areas and groups in Coventry.
The Employment Service (ES) actively markets and delivers its programmes and services to unemployed jobseekers, especially disadvantaged groups and the long-term unemployed, as part of its Annual Performance Agreement with the Department of Employment. In the eleven months up to February, the ES in Coventry placed 3,318 long-term unemployed people into jobs, and 1,765 people on the adult vocational Training-for-Work programme. All unemployed people who do not manage to find work within 13 weeks of their date of registration, are given a personal interview with an experienced employment adviser, where efforts to find work are reviewed and options for getting back to work, including vocational training, are explored. There are a number of active employment measures, including Job Plan Workshops, Jobclubs, Work Trials, and the Job Interview Guarantee scheme, which operate in the Coventry area, aimed specifically at long-term unemployed.
Two years ago, an Enterprise and Advice Centre was set up in Coventry, Hillfields, to encourage local residents to access training and education opportunities. The centre is a local partnership initiative between the ES, Training and Enterprise Council, Careers Service, Jobclubs and other community based organisations. In the three months up to February, the centre assisted over 1,200 local people.
There are also several local projects aimed at equipping ethnic minority and other disadvantaged groups with the skills needed to access training, education and job opportunities. Again, these partnership projects are funded centrally, but managed and delivered locally through community "outreach" facilities to ensure training and access provision is targeted at, and available to disadvantaged groups in areas of high and long-term unemployment.
From April, Coventry will pilot a new employer recruitment subsidy scheme known as Workstart. This initiative, which will run for a year, is designed to test the effectiveness of encouraging employers to recruit people unemployed for two years or more by paying them a subsidy.
With regard to more general recruitment in Coventry, Barclays Bank is creating between 500 1000 new jobs for its national telephone banking headquarters--BarclayCall, in the Walsgrave area of the city. The ES is already assisting Barclays with its vacancy filling by delivering job preparation courses for prospective employees and have so far placed 50 clients into jobs, 31% of whom were long-term unemployed jobseekers.
I hope you will find this labour market information about the Coventry area helpful.
Miss Widdecombe: The Department's forecast expenditure for 1994 95 is £3.7 billion. Of this, some £1 billion is directed specifically to helping long-term unemployed people. This includes £693 million on training for work in England and around £300 million for the range of assistance offered by the Employment Service, such as community action, jobclubs, jobplan workshops and restart.
In addition, the Department plans to spend some £95 million more over the next three years on the measures to help long-term unemployed people find work, such as jobmatch, workstart and work trials. These measures were announced by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget statement on 29 November 1994, Official Report , column 1079.
Mr. Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list (a) the consultants, (b) the tasks for which they were employed and (c) the payments made to them from his Department's budget in (i) 1992 93 and (ii) 1993 94.
Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the allocation of the European social fund for the current programming period to (a) Government programmes, (b) each of the objective 1, 2 and 5b regions and (c) each of the non-Government sectors, giving distinctions between England, Wales and Scotland where appropriate.
Column 336European Community structural funds for the 1994 95 programme period are shown in table 1. The allocations in respect of Government programmes form part of the objective 3 plan agreed last year with the European Commission. Non-Government sector allocations for 1994 and 1995 were subsequently settled with the objective 3 monitoring committee. Figures for 1996 will be agreed later this year. Table 2 shows the European social fund components of the allocations to regions and sub- regions made under objectives 1, 2 and 5(b) of the structural funds. For the objective 1 regions, the programming period covers the years 1994 to 1999; for objective 2 the years 1994 to 1996.
Table 1: Objective 3 sector allocations: 1994 to 1996 £ million Sector |1994 |1995 |1996 ------------------------------------------- Government |222.000|231.000|244.000
Non-Government sectors £ million Sector |1994 |1995 ----------------------------------------------------------- Voluntary sector |28.637|28.984 Training and Enterprise Councils |18.000|18.218 Industrial Training Organisations |5.403 |5.468 Local authorities (England and Wales) |19.825|20.065 Local authorities (Scotland) |9.085 |2.753 Further education (Scotland) |9.085 |6.442 Further education (England) |43.503|44.030 Further education (Wales) |2.735 |2.768 Higher education |21.401|21.660 Gibraltar |0.720 |0.730 Allocations are shown in 1994 prices and have been converted to sterling using an exchange rate of 1.29 ecu = £1. The allocation for Gibraltar is included in the UK's overall allocation-and funded from the Government allocation.
Table 2: Objective 1, 2 and 5b regional allocations: 1994 to 1999 Objective £million Region |1994 |1995 |1996 |1997 |1998 |1999 |Total -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Merseyside |35.953 |38.891 |41.690 |44.589 |48.465 |52.434 |262.023 Highlands and Islands |6.430 |6.740 |7.130 |7.290 |7.600 |7.600 |42.790
Objective 2 £ million Region |1994 |1995 |1996 |Total ------------------------------------------------------------ North-east England |18.977|19.791|20.922|59.690 West Cumbria and Furness |1.519 |1.589 |1.682 |4.791 North-west England |24.318|25.349|26.845|76.512 East midlands |4.866 |5.074 |5.370 |15.310 Yorkshire and Humberside |19.692|20.308|21.240|61.240 West midlands |22.915|23.884|25.295|72.093 Greater London |4.558 |4.752 |5.031 |14.341 Thanet |0.518 |0.540 |0.571 |1.628 Plymouth |1.411 |1.465 |1.543 |4.419 Industrial south Wales |11.581|12.078|12.775|36.434 Eastern Scotland |5.960 |6.220 |6.580 |18.760 Western Scotland |15.550|16.210|17.150|48.910 Gibraltar |0.222 |0.231 |0.245 |0.698
Objective 5(b) £ million Region |1994 |1995 |1996 |1997 |1998 |1999 |Total ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Northern uplands |1.496 |1.961 |2.264 |2.271 |2.279 |2.287 |12.558 East Anglia |1.081 |1.081 |1.081 |1.204 |1.204 |1.326 |6.977 English marches |0.812 |1.078 |1.247 |1.255 |1.260 |1.264 |6.916 Devon and Cornwall |3.030 |3.960 |4.583 |4.612 |4.629 |4.650 |25.464 Lincolnshire |0.724 |0.967 |1.120 |1.132 |1.132 |1.147 |6.222 Derbyshire/Staffordshire |0.163 |0.221 |0.178 |0.256 |0.257 |0.260 |1.335 Rural Wales |3.070 |4.016 |4.643 |4.674 |4.690 |4.721 |25.814 Dumfries and Galloway |0.630 |0.820 |0.950 |0.950 |0.960 |0.960 |5.270 Borders |0.550 |0.720 |0.840 |0.840 |0.850 |0.850 |4.650 Grampian |0.560 |0.730 |0.840 |0.850 |0.850 |0.860 |4.690 Rural Stirling and upper Tayside |0.590 |0.620 |0.640 |0.660 |0.670 |0.700 |3.880 Allocations are shown in 1994 prices except for the English marches, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire/Staffordshire programmes which are shown in 1995 prices. All allocations have been converted to sterling using an exchange rate of 1.29 ecu = £1.
Date |Million ECU ------------------------------------ 1994 |478 1995 |497 1996 |526
Northern Ireland receives separate allocations.
Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what measures are being taken by his Department to improve the employment opportunities of people with epilepsy other than his Department's booklet on the subject.
Miss Widdecombe: The Government have introduced the Disability Discrimination Bill which, if enacted, will make it unlawful for an employer to treat a disabled person, including a person with epilepsy, less favourably because of his or her disability, without justifiable reason.
The Department also has a wide range of initiatives and services which help enhance employment opportunities for people with disabilities, including those with epilepsy. We will continue our programme of educating and persuading employers to adopt good employment practices for disabled people. We will also continue to provide effective practical help to both employers and disabled individuals.
Column 338Letter from M. E. G. Fogden to Mr. David Chidgey, dated 9 March 1995:
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the measures being taken to combat sickness absenteeism in the Employment Service (ES).
A sickness absence management initiative has been in place in the ES since 1991. This came about because of concerns about sickness levels in the organisation at that time and the need to manage it more effectively.
The main elements of the initiative included:
(a) the provision of a leaflet for people returning to work about sickness absence and a requirement for managers to talk to such staff, to check what the problem was, whether they were fully fit for work, and find out whether additional support and advice was needed; and (b) a requirement for individuals to phone in by an agreed time on the first day of their illness, to tell their manager they were ill, so that cover for their job could be arranged during their absence.
The rationale behind the initiative was to provide more effective help to those who really needed it, and to take a firmer line with those whose absences may have been questionable. Sickness absence has fallen from around 7% in 1991 to around 4% in 1994. More recently, the success of this initiative has been developed further with a number of changes being made to the ES Personnel Handbook. One of the changes to the inefficiency procedure was a reduction in the number of days sickness absence which an employee can take before consideration is given to inefficiency action. Previously, the limits were 14 or 21 days in a 12 month period, depending on age. Since 31 October 1994, the new trigger point has been 12 working days for everyone irrespective of age and also includes part day sickness absences.
A full evaluation will be conducted in the autumn, when the arrangements have been in place for a full year.
I hope this is helpful.
Ms Jowell: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what arrangements he will make to ensure that individual contractors which submitted claims for work carried out for STTEC are reimbursed in full.
Mr. Paice: Whether contractors are paid for services contracted for with South Thames training and enterprise council will depend upon the source of the funding and the timing of the work done. For Government- funded programmes--excluding employer investment in people--payments will be made to providers for properly substantiated claims for work done since 7 November 1994. Employer investment in people contractors will be paid for work done after 21 December 1994--the date of the appointment of the receiver. Payment for discretionary programmes funded from TEC reserves after 21
Column 339December 1994 are a matter for the receiver. All contractors are unsecured creditors to the TEC for payments relating to work on Government programmes--excluding employer investment in people-- before 7 November 1994 and all other forms of contract and employer investment in people prior to 21 December 1994.
Ms Jowell: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the total amount of money which was pledged by the South Thames TEC to training providers based in the Dulwich constituency for the financial year 1994 95.
Ms Jowell: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the total amount of money owing to individual contractors which submitted claims for payment for work carried out for South Thames TEC before the appointment of the receiver.
Mr. Paice: The total amount of money owing to individual contractors which submitted claims for payment for work carried out for South Thames training and enterprise council, before the appointment of the receiver, is a matter for the receiver.
Ms Jowell: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what arrangements he will make to ensure that Waverley school in Dulwich receives the £75,000 it was promised by the South Thames TEC before going into receivership.
Mr. Paice: The £75,000 referred to in the question breaks down into six separate programmes. Two of these, compact and careers initiative, are Government-funded programmes covered by the comfort arrangements so the school will receive funding for these programmes for work undertaken since 7 November 1994. However, for any moneys owing for activities undertaken before 7 November, the school is an unsecured creditor. Investors in people is Government-funded, but comfort has not been extended to this programme as it benefits organisations rather than individuals. The school is an unsecured creditor to the training and enterprise council for this programme before 21 December, the date of the receiver's appointment. Claims for work done after 21 December should be submitted to the receiver. The school effectiveness pilot and the technology bid are South Thames TEC initiatives funded from the TEC's own reserves. The Government are not committed to continue to fund discretionary programmes financed from the TEC's reserves. The Waverley school is an unsecured creditor to the TEC for the two latter programmes for payments relating to work done prior to the receiver's appointment on 21 December. Whether invoices for any such work done after 21 December are paid is a matter for the receiver. The personal effectiveness programme initiative is Government funded. It offers the use of a consultancy service rather than providing funding direct to the school. This service will continue to be delivered under the normal conditions.
Mr. Blunkett: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what training is given to district managers in the Employment Service on the geographic locations of jobcentres, the constituencies they fall in and the communities they serve; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Allen: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make provision for (a) political parties and (b) hon. Members to place material in a specifically designated section of the World Wide Web server www.open.gov.uk in order to contribute to political debate; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Horam: The World Wide Web server, www.open.gov.uk, provides Internet access to the CCTA Government information service. This service is intended specifically for Government information to be placed there by CCTA on behalf of Departments of State. There are no plans to extend its use to include political material from either parties or individuals.
However, the Government fully support the principle of open political debate, and the CCTA Government information service has a number of collaborative open groups that are designed to encourage such discussion, through electronic mail. Details can be found at the World Wide Web address:
Direct support through MRC's own units:
MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge
Project Title: Understanding pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease.
Indirect support through grants to researchers in higher education institutions:
Dr. J. Xuereb and Dr. C. M. Wischik
Dept. of Psychiatry,
Project title: Cambridge Brain Bank's contribution to clinical/epidemiological studies of dementia and Alzheimer's disease research.
Professor D. Brock
Dept. of Medicine
Project title: Mutation analysis in Alzheimer's disease Professor P. Lantos and Professor C. D. Marsden
Dept. of neuropathology,
Institute of Psychiatry
Project title: A London brain bank for research on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease
Professor R. Williamson and Dr. M. Rossor
Dept. of biochemistry and molecular genetics
St. Mary's hospital medical school
Project title: Familial dementias and Alzheimer's disease