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Minimum Wage

13. Ms Squire: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what estimate he has made of the impact of the national minimum wage on the average income in Wales. [82099]

Mr. Michael: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Edwards) today, Official Report, column 932.

New Deal (Young People)

14. Mr. Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many 18 to 25-year-olds in Wales are in full-time work, training, education or on the environment task force as a result of their participation in the New Deal. [82101]

16. Lorna Fitzsimons: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many 18 to 25-year-olds in Wales are in full-time work, training, education or on the environment task force as a result of their participation in the New Deal. [82103]

Mr. Hain: The latest information indicates that, under the New Deal for 18-24 year olds, some 3,800 young people have found work, over 1,300 are in full-time

5 May 1999 : Column: 423

education and training, almost 700 are on the Environment Task Force, and some 400 are improving their employability through work with the Voluntary Sector.

Following the transfer of functions, this issue will be a matter for the National Assembly.

Official Representation (Brussels)

15. Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what preparatory work his Department has undertaken to establish official representation for Wales in Brussels once the National Assembly has come into existence; and if he will make a statement. [82102]

Mr. Hain: Welsh Office officials are in discussion with the various parties involved in order to present proposals to the Assembly.

Women (Political Opportunities)

17. Ms Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what plans he has to increase opportunities for women in political life in Wales. [82104]

Mr. Michael: I am committed to increasing the representation of women at all levels of Government. Our White Paper called on local government to consider how they could best schedule meetings to allow councillors to combine elected office with work and family commitments and undertook to work with the Equal Opportunities Commission to consider how more women councillors can be encouraged.

We have agreed that official meetings of the National Assembly should be timetabled between 9.00am and 5.30pm to make it easier to combine politics with family life.

I also believe political parties must rise to the challenge of securing greater representation of women amongst their candidates for election.

Welsh Language

18. Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he is taking to promote the Welsh language. [82105]

Mr. Michael: Steps to promote the Welsh language include providing £5.9 million in grant in aid to the Welsh Language Board in 1999-2000, and putting in place the necessary arrangements to establish the National Assembly as an effective bilingual institution.

Following the transfer of functions, this issue will be a matter for the National Assembly.

Concessionary Travel

19. Mr. Bradshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what estimate he has made of the number of pensioners in Wales who will benefit from the introduction of the concessionary half fare for bus travel. [82106]

26. Mr. Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what estimate he has made of the number of pensioners in Wales who will benefit from the introduction of the concessionary half fare for bus travel. [82114]

5 May 1999 : Column: 424

Mr. Hain: There are some 580,000 people over the retirement age in Wales. We are keen for them all to have access to concessionary fares schemes which provide at least half-price travel for a bus pass costing no more than £5, and we have ensured that all local authorities are now in a position to operate schemes which meet this minimum standard.

Furthermore, we are working with local authorities and bus operators to prepare the way for the introduction of free bus travel for pensioners over the next two to three years.

Following the transfer of functions, this issue will be a matter for the National Assembly.

Health Spending

20. Mrs. Gorman: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will estimate the level of health spending per head of population in Wales in 1999-2000 relative to that in England. [82107]

Mr. Jon Owen Jones: Projected spending per head in 1999-2000 is £907 in Wales; in England it is £806.

Following the transfer of functions, this issue will be a matter for the National Assembly.

Haulage Industry

21. Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement about the future of the haulage industry in Wales. [82108]

Mr. Hain: The future of the haulage industry in Wales is closely linked with that of the Welsh economy. The prospects for both are excellent. I am aware of the concerns about taxation and competition issues which have been expressed by the industry, which the Government will consider in the recently established Haulage Forum.

Following the transfer of functions, the National Assembly will take a close interest in the haulage industry in Wales.

Milk Marque

22. Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many letters he has received from farmers concerned about the future of Milk Marque. [82109]

Mr. Jon Owen Jones: I have received nine letters. I have passed the letters to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to take the comments into account in his consideration of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission's (MMC, now known as the Competitions Commission (CC)) report into the Dairy Industry.

Following the transfer of functions, the Dairy Industry in Wales will be a matter for the National Assembly but decisions in respect of recommendations from the Competitions Commission (MMC) will remain the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

5 May 1999 : Column: 425

Agenda 2000

23. Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he met representatives of the farming unions in Wales to discuss the impact of Agenda 2000 on Welsh agriculture. [82110]

Mr. Jon Owen Jones: Both my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have met with representatives of the farming unions in Wales on numerous occasions during the negotiations on the Common Agricultural Policy reform component of Agenda 2000. Welsh Office officials are currently assessing how the proposed reforms will affect farmers in Wales and we will be discussing this further with the industry in due course.

Following the transfer of functions, this issue will be a matter for the National Assembly.

Chambers of Commerce

24. Mr. Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last met representatives of the chambers of commerce of Wales to discuss the costs of (a) tax and (b) regulations to business. [82111]

Mr. Michael: I have met a wide range of business representatives to discuss issues affecting business. My predecessor met representatives of the South Wales Chambers of Commerce Group formally during his time as Secretary of State for Wales and I am due to meet representatives of the Cardiff Chamber of Commerce in the near future.

Outdoor Education

25. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on provision of outdoor education for pupils in Wales. [82112]

Mr. Hain: Physical Education forms an integral part of the National Curriculum in Wales. Outdoor and adventurous activities form part of the programmes of study for Physical Education at Key Stages 2 to 4. There is compelling evidence that habits formed by young children at primary school age persist into later life and that fit and active children will be much better placed to enjoy a fulfilling and healthy adult life. Elements of "games", such as running, throwing and jumping, that are taught as a compulsory part of the primary school curriculum, help address concerns that some areas of Wales have the highest rates of heart disease in Britain. In other areas of the curriculum, schools use outdoor environments to support programmes of study as appropriate. Awdurdod Cymwysterau, Cwricwlwm ac Asesu Cymru/The Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales (ACCAC) will be consulting in the summer term on proposals for a new curriculum to be introduced from September 2000.

Following the transfer of functions, responsibility for education matters in Wales will pass to the National Assembly.

5 May 1999 : Column: 426

Voluntary Organisations

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on his funding of voluntary organisations in Wales. [82727]

Mr. Jon Owen Jones: On 6 April, my right hon. Friend announced nearly £3 million funding for the voluntary sector organisations listed for the current financial year. This represents a five per cent. increase for the organisations over the previous year and demonstrates our commitment to a vigorous voluntary sector.

Grants awarded:£000
Local Voluntary Services Scheme (LVS)1,719
Transitional Funding LVS35
Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) Administration of LVS43
WCVA441
Volunteering in Wales Fund557
Community Enterprise Wales54
Business in the Community Wales21
Community Services Volunteers (CSV)35
Student Community Action21
Welsh Black Voluntary Sector Network21
CSV and Senior Volunteers Programme20


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