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Publications

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list by title the publications produced by his Department between 1 May 1997 and 31 January 1998. [26328]

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Dr. Howells: A list by title of the publications produced by the Department of Education and Employment between 1 May 1997 and 31 January 1998 has been placed in the Library.

Student Loans

Mr. Bermingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when the Education (Student Loans) Act 1998 will come into force; when he expects to make regulations; and if he will make a statement. [28960]

Dr. Howells: Sections 1, 4, 5, 6(1) and 7 came into force on Royal Assent on 27 January 1998. Sections 2, 3, and 6(2) and the Schedule to the Act will come into force on 1 March 1998. My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Education and Employment and for Scotland laid the Education (Student Loans) Regulations 1998 before the House of Friday 6 February.

The Regulations protect borrowers and debt purchasers by fixing the key terms of all loans taken out under the Education (Student Loans) Act 1990 both before and after 1 March 1998. The Regulations also provide for new repayment terms for disabled borrowers. These terms were formerly exercised at the discretion of the loans administrator.

Employment Figures (Young People)

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what procedures he proposes to establish to monitor the number of persons under the age of 25 years leaving benefit and entering work; and when those procedures will be in place. [26148]

Mr. Alan Howarth: 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 Leigh Lewis to Mr. Oliver Letwin, dated 9 February 1998:





Jobmatch Scheme

Mr. Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what is his estimate of (a) the

9 Feb 1998 : Column: 86

costs and (b) the numbers who would gain if the jobmatch scheme was extended to people over 50 years who have been unemployed for six months. [26162]

Mr. Alan Howarth: 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 Leigh Lewis to Mr. Jim Fitzpatrick, dated 9 February 1998:




Disabled People (Rehabilitation)

Mr. Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many disabled people have started a rehabilitation programme in the last 12 months; and what is his estimate of the average cost per place on an employment rehabilitation programme. [26163]

Mr. Alan Howarth: 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 Leigh Lewis to Mr. Jim Fitzpatrick, dated 9 February 1998:





Unemployment

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when the United Kingdom Government will publish their proposals on tackling unemployment to be submitted to the EU meeting to discuss member states' plans. [28620]

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Mr. Andrew Smith: All member states have agreed to present Employment Action Plans by 15 April so that an initial assessment can take place at the Cardiff European Council. These plans will set out each member state's proposals for implementing the Employment Guidelines agreed at the Luxembourg Jobs Summit attended by the Prime Minister last November. We intend to produce and publish the UK Employment Action Plan well in advance of the deadline.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

European Labour Markets

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade which regulations and directives being negotiated in the Council of Ministers during the British presidency will (a) impose and (b) remove restrictions or controls on European labour markets. [28621]

Mr. Andrew Smith: I have been asked to reply.

The Government intend that all relevant dossiers being negotiated in the Social Affairs and Education Councils of Ministers during the UK Presidency should reinforce progress towards its objectives of employability, flexible and adaptable labour markets, fair minimum standards and job generation.

In the field of health and safety, proposals for a Chemical Agents Directive, a Carcinogens Worker Protection Directive, a Scaffolding Directive and proposals to amend the Asbestos Worker Protection Directive either are or will be subject to proper assessment to ensure that they are well targeted or scientifically justified. While they are not considered to have a major impact upon current practice in the UK, they should have the effect of raising standards elsewhere and in particular help to reduce the toll of 6,000 fatal accidents and thousands of cases of fatal disease each year in the EU.

The directive on part-time work, which is likely to be extended to the UK during our Presidency, will require employers to treat part-time workers no less favourably than equivalent full-time workers. By promoting part-time work and raising its status, the directive should increase flexibility in European labour markets. The Government are also consulting publicly about whether to seek amendments to the Acquired Rights Directive to make it more flexible, e.g. by allowing derogations agreed by the social partners in certain circumstances.

The proposal for a Supplementary Pensions Directive, the co-ordination of social security regulations for migrant workers who are EU citizens and the proposal to extend those regulations to all insured persons would neither impose nor remove restrictions on the labour market but may allow more labour market mobility within the EU, which is a positive step forward.

The Burden of Proof Directive would make very little difference to the way in which sex discrimination cases are in practice decided in the UK, or to the outcome of industrial tribunal cases. The European Company Statute would provide an alternative form of incorporation for companies but since it will be voluntary, it will not affect restrictions or controls on European labour markets.

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Finally, the Government aim to secure a common position on the Commission's proposal for a third Directive on mutual recognition of professional qualifications, which will simplify procedures for seeking work in other member states. This proposal will further ease barriers to employment.


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