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China

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made by the United Kingdom Government in promoting dialogue between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama. [85850]

Mr. Hoon: We take every opportunity to encourage the Chinese Government to enter into dialogue with the Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama. My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs did so when they visited China last year. My predecessor, the late Member for Leeds, Central did so again when he visited China in April. We are not aware however of any recent discussions.

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has (a) sought and (b) obtained from the Chinese Government about the whereabouts of welfare of the Panchen Lama. [85864]

Mr. Hoon: We have taken every opportunity to seek information from the Chinese Government, both bilaterally and in conjunction with our EU partners, on the well-being of the child recognised by the Dalai Lama as the Panchen Lama. We have also sought permission to visit the child. While this has not been agreed by the Chinese authorities, they have reported that the child is living normally with his family. We shall continue to raise the case.

Middle East

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next proposes to visit the Middle East and to meet the new Israeli Government. [85711]

Mr. Hoon: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has no current plans to visit Israel. I hope to visit Israel in the near future to meet the new Israeli Government.

8 Jun 1999 : Column: 310

Ron Arad

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he has taken over the missing Israeli service-man Ron Arad. [85715]

Mr. Hoon: We regularly raise the issue of Ron Arad and other missing Israeli service-men with those who might have knowledge of their fate. Derek Fatchett met the families of the missing service-men when he visited Israel in January 1998.

South Africa

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to make contact with the newly elected South African Government and the new President; and if he will make a statement. [86059]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: The UK Government have an extremely close relationship with South Africa's President Mandela. We shall build on this when Thabo Mbeki becomes South Africa's new President.

The Prime Minister has already spoken to Thabo Mbeki to congratulate him and assure him of the UK's continuing commitment to our bilateral relationship. The Deputy Prime Minister will represent the UK Government at the Presidential inauguration in Pretoria on 16 June. We shall sustain the high level ministerial contact when the new South African Government is appointed.

Further visits are already planned: the Secretary of State will accompany Her Majesty The Queen on the State Visit to South Africa on 9-11 November and during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Durban on 12-14 November, which the Prime Minister will also attend.

EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

Appraisals Handbook

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, pursuant to his answers of 25 May 1999, Official Report, columns 101-02, if the Performance Management Framework due to be published later this year is the same as the Appraisals Handbook for which tenders were invited on 6 February 1998. [85945]

Ms Estelle Morris: No.

Education and Training

Mr. Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when he will announce his response to the consultation on post-16 education and training. [85725]

Mr. Mudie: We will be announcing our proposals later in the summer.

New Deal (Young People)

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what success the New Deal has had in reducing the number of unemployed young people. [85335]

8 Jun 1999 : Column: 311

Mr. Andrew Smith: As the following table shows, since New Deal was introduced nationally in April 1998, unemployment amongst the eligible group has fallen by 41 per cent. compared with a fall of 2.5 per cent. for all unemployed people aged over 25.

The youth labour market is very dynamic, so some people would have left the claimant count without the help provided by New Deal. Nevertheless, initial evidence

8 Jun 1999 : Column: 312

comparing Pathfinder areas (where New Deal started three months earlier) with the rest of the country suggests that the New Deal increased both the flow of young people out of unemployment and the flow into jobs. The impact of New Deal is being addressed through a comprehensive evaluation programme. All final reports from the evaluation will be published and copies placed in the Library.

8 Jun 1999 : Column: 311

Unemployed claimants (UK, nsa)

Aged 18-24 Aged 25+
Up to 6 monthsover 6 monthsover 12 monthsAll aged 18-24All
April 1998226,000119,90050,000345,9001,028,000
April 1999229,70070,90016,300300,5001,003,1001
Change+3,700-49,000-33,700-45,400-24,900
Percentage change+1.5-41-67-13-2.5

8 Jun 1999 : Column: 311

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will provide a breakdown by New Deal office of those who have refused to participate within the New Deal for 18 to 25-year-olds. [85130]

Mr. Andrew Smith [holding answer 25 May 1999]: If on receiving an invitation to take part in the New Deal a young unemployed person terminates their Jobseeker's Allowance claim, the Employment Service will often not know whether it is because they have got a job or because they are refusing to participate.

If sanctions for refusing to comply with New Deal requirements are taken as an indicator, the position in the last six months is as follows: over 7,000 young people had a benefit sanction imposed or were disallowed from claiming Jobseeker's Allowance as part of the New Deal. Of these, 530 were in Scotland, 800 in the Northern region, 1,200 in the North West, 1,120 in Yorkshire and the Humber, 340 in Wales, 910 in the West Midlands, 630 in the East Midlands and Eastern region, 350 in the South West and 1,310 in London and the South East. The figures for individual offices are not collected centrally.

Mr. Rendel: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment of the 34 per cent. of young people who had left the New Deal by the end of February 1999 for unknown reasons, how many are (a) no longer claiming jobseeker's allowance, (b) have retained their previous jobseeker's allowance entitlement and (c) have had their jobseeker's allowance entitlement reduced. [85638]

Mr. Andrew Smith: By the end of February 1999, 35,870 young people had left New Deal for an unknown destination. By the end of March 1999, 7,410 (21 per cent.) had made a subsequent claim for Jobseeker's Allowance at least three months after leaving the New Deal. If young people make a claim for Jobseeker's Allowance within three months of leaving, they re-enter the New Deal.

Education Funding (Liverpool)

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how much new (a) capital and (b) revenue funding has been made available to schools and colleges in Liverpool since May 1997. [85497]

Ms Estelle Morris: The Education Standard Spending Assessment for Liverpool for 1999-2000 is £238,304 million. This represents an increase of £22.5 million or

8 Jun 1999 : Column: 312

10.4 per cent. on the equivalent figure for 1997-98. New specific grant and capital allocations made to Liverpool since May 1997 are shown in the following table. In addition, Liverpool Community College has been allocated £17.2 million of capital funding, of which £9.9 million has been paid to date. The college was allocated £20.1 million of revenue funding for 1998-99 academic year. There have also been £0.873 million of capital allocations made to Grant-Maintained school in Liverpool.

£ million

1997-981998-991999-2000
New Deal for Schools capital1.2754.01612.697
Books for Schools--revenue0.2240.2360.472
Other Standards Fund--5.8539.087
Infant Class Size--capital--0.0850.224
Infant Class Size--revenue----0.124
Energy Efficiency capital--0.155--
Nursery Education Grant--revenue--0.497--

Notes:

1. Standards Fund includes both the LEA and central government grant contribution.

2. New Deal for Schools allocations include total allocations made so far under stages 1 to 3, including those for future years. The total for 1999-2000 includes New Deal allocations to Grant-Maintained schools.



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