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Structural Funds

17. Ms Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will make a statement on the impact of European structural funds on peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. [84455]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The European Union is funding the Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation which aims to reinforce progress towards a peaceful and stable society and to promote reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Additional EU aid for the Programme for 1999 brings the total awarded to 400 million euros (approximately £285 million).

New Deal

20. Kali Mountford: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many companies are signed up to the New Deal in Northern Ireland. [84459]

Mr. McFall: At the 23 April 1999, 2,646 Northern Ireland companies had confirmed their support for New Deal by signing an Employment Agreement.

Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what arrangements are in place to ensure that employers receiving subsidies under the New Deal are complying completely with the minimum wage legislation for all their employees, including those subsidised under the New Deal. [85120]

Mr. McFall: Responsibility for the subject in question has been delegated to the Training and Employment Agency under its chief executive, Mr. Ian Walters. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Ian Walters to Mr. Cecil Walker, dated 25 May 1999:



    The role of implementing National Minimum Wage policy lies with the Department of Trade & Industry and the monitoring and enforcing functions have been assigned to the Inland Revenue. The Training & Employment Agency has no direct responsibility in these matters but the Agency's JobCentre staff are offering guidance based on DTI explanatory leaflets for both employers and employees. They are also signposting enquiries to the National Minimum Wage telephone information and enquiries lines. (Copies of the DTI leaflets are enclosed.) The Agency now requires all employers reporting vacancies, for which job applicants are sought, to confirm that at least National Minimum Wage rates will apply.


    On the specific issue of New Deal employees' National Minimum Wage entitlements, Personal Advisers maintain a counselling and monitoring role during the subsidy period with employees and employers to ensure that all New Deal criteria and job recruitment agreements are being honoured.


    I hope you find this reply useful.

Prison Officers (Redundancies)

22. Mr. Geraint Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will make a statement on progress with redundancy arrangements for prison officers in Northern Ireland. [84461]

26 May 1999 : Column: 179

Mr. Ingram: 117 staff left the Prison Service on 30 March 1999 under the voluntary early retirement/early severance scheme. A further 93 staff are expected to leave by 30 June 1999. All those leaving under the scheme receive a comprehensive programme of support services.

Paramilitary Violence

23. Mr. William Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate she has made of the types and number of weapons in the possession of terrorist organisations which have been responsible for acts of violence in Northern Ireland. [84462]

Mr. Ingram: For obvious reasons, it is not our practice to disclose such intelligence matters. I can however say that substantial amounts of firearms, munitions and explosives are held by various groups in Northern Ireland.

Restorative Justice

24. Mr. Michael Jabez Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the objectives are of the new Government initiatives on restorative justice in Northern Ireland. [84463]

Mr. Ingram: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave earlier to my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Angela Smith).

Drumcree

26. Mr. Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the prospects for achieving a local accommodation over the disputed parade at Drumcree this year. [84465]

Mr. Ingram: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave earlier to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Savidge).

Child Protection

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many children in Northern Ireland who are registered with local authorities are registered on the Child Protection Register; and if he will make a statement. [85085]

Mr. McFall: There were 1,418 children in Northern Ireland on the Child Protection Register at 31 December 1998, the latest date for which such information is available.

Compensation Agency

Mrs. Fyfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the future plans for the Compensation Agency will be published; and if she will make a statement. [85867]

Mr. Ingram: The Compensation Agency will publish today its Corporate Plan and Business Plan. The Plans explain the Agency's business and organisation and set out the assumptions about work loads and resources which underpin the plans and targets.

26 May 1999 : Column: 180

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Farmers (Tibet)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what representations she has made to the World Bank about its proposal to help fund the re-settlement of farmers from outside the region to Tibet; [85129]

Clare Short: I understand that these questions relate to the World Bank's proposed Western Poverty Reduction Project in Qinghai province of China (bordering the autonomous region of Tibet). We have requested further details of the proposal from World Bank staff in Washington. I will write to my hon. Friend when this information is available.

UNESCO

Mr. Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what financial and other assistance her Department intends to provide to establish a UK National Commission for UNESCO. [84896]

Clare Short: We will provide a core grant not exceeding £70,000 a year towards the costs of a UK Commission for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). We and other Departments will also consider support for specific activities in accordance with Government priorities. It is expected that civil society groupings with an interest in UNESCO will provide additional funding for the Commission.

TREASURY

Media Relations

Mr. Baker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) civil servants and (b) special advisers involved in media relations were employed within his Department at 1 May (i) 1997, (ii) 1998 and (iii) 1999. [84191]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 18 May 1999]: Detailed information on the number of permanent civil servants employed in Departmental Press Offices during the financial years 1997-98 and 1998-99 was provided in a memorandum to the Select Committee on Public Administration and published in its report on The Government Information and Communication Service (HC770) in July 1998. A copy is in the Library of the House. The numbers in post at 1 May 1999 are 7.

Special Advisers in this Department advise Treasury Ministers on the full range of policy issues.

Alcohol and Tobacco Smuggling

Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the cost of not implementing the recommendations of the report of the Alcohol and Tobacco Fraud Review. [85101]

26 May 1999 : Column: 181

Dawn Primarolo: If the recommendations of the Alcohol and Tobacco Fraud Review had not been implemented and the allocation of £35 million over 3 years had not been made to Customs to effect these recommendations, Customs would be unable to achieve by 2001-02 the target set in the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review White Paper for detecting alcohol and tobacco fraud. There would also be an even greater threat of large-scale excise crime.

Special Advisers

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) in what capacity his then special adviser addressed the Chalk Farm Branch Labour Party meeting on 9 February; and if the Government's economic policy was discussed and questions on this subject answered; [84827]

Ms Hewitt: Any speaking engagements undertaken by Treasury Special Advisers have been fully in line with the terms of their contracts.


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