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Tunisia

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met the Tunisian Ambassador; and if he will make a statement on UK-Tunisian relations. [95097]

Mr. Hain: The Secretary of State has not yet met the Tunisian Ambassador, Mr. Jhinaoui. I last met him on 6 September.

Bilateral ties go back a long way and remain mutually productive. Tunisia is an important trading partner and Britain is one of the largest international investors there. Tunisia is also a constructive and moderate influence on many of the Middle East's regional problems. Human rights form an important part of our bilateral agenda. We have welcomed the recent release from gaol in Tunisia of two people championed by international human rights NGOs. We hope to build on this at both bilateral and EU level for a resolution to other outstanding cases.

Gender Impact Assessment

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reason his Department has not carried out any gender impact assessments since June 1997. [95228]

Mr. Battle: My Department has introduced three pieces of legislation since June 1997 which were needed to implement internationally negotiated treaties in the United Kingdom. Gender impact assessments were not considered necessary for the legislation concerned.

My Department works closely with the Women's Unit, and will continue to consider the need for gender impact assessments for all new legislation.

EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

Lifelong Learning

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what contacts he has made with (a) trade associations and (b) trades unions on the formulation of strategies for lifelong learning and continuing professional development. [95723]

Mr. Wicks: The Department works closely with a variety of organisations in formulating its strategies for lifelong learning and continuing professional development. These include Trade Associations and Trade Unions.

Toddington and Didbrook

Mr. Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when he expects to make public his decision on the amalgamation of Toddington and Didbrook primary schools in Gloucester. [95712]

Ms Estelle Morris: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State informed Gloucestershire local education authority on Thursday 21 October that he had rejected the

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proposals. The letter containing the Secretary of State's decision asked the local education authority to inform objectors.

Departmental Twinning

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many requests there have been to his Department for placement of officials from Central, East European and CIS states as twins of his officials; how many such officials have been accepted as twins; from which countries (a) those who were accepted and (b) those who were not accepted came; and which of these twinnings related to the (i) education and (ii) employment aspects of his Department. [93998]

Mr. Wills [holding answer 25 October 1999]: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) on 25 October 1999, Official Report, columns 739-40.

New Deal (Disabled People)

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when he plans to announce the national roll-out of the New Deal for Disabled People. [95726]

Ms Jowell: Together with colleagues at the Department for Social Security, we are currently considering what has been learnt from the pilot phase for a national extension of this New Deal. We hope to make an announcement on this in the near future.

Supported Employment

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what use he is making of research his Department has recently (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the demand for places for supported employment. [95727]

Ms Jowell: 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 Richard Foster to Mr. Tim Boswell, dated 25 October 1999:



    The research was conducted by Sheila Honey and Matthew Williams at the Institute for Employment Studies and published in July 1998 under the title: Supply and Demand for Supported Employment. A copy is available in the House of Commons Library.


    The Programme provides job support to over 22,000 disabled people with a range of employers and in supported factories and businesses. It is open to disabled people who face more complex barriers to getting or keeping a job because of their disability, but who can work effectively with support. The Programme is delivered in partnership with over 230 local authority and voluntary organisations and Remploy Ltd. Around 12,000 supported employees work in a variety of jobs with mainstream employers with the remainder working in around 190 supported factories and businesses, including some 6,3000 in Remploy factories.

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    The research provided estimates, using a variety of data sources, of the extent to which the supply of places on our Programme matched the potential demand on a geographical basis. Depending on the definition, the research indicated a potential additional demand of between 40,000 and 180,000 places. The lower figures was based on people who were unemployed and actively seeking work and the upper figure included those who were currently inactive in the labour market (such as students, those looking after families or homes, or people temporarily unable to work due to illness). It is unlikely, however, that all of those estimated as eligible for our Supported Employment Programme will actually demand a place--many are likely to find work in open employment or training.


    The research also indicated that the degree to which the potential supply of places on the Programme matched the potential demand varied by Employment Service Region. Wales had the closest match between supply and demand, followed by the South West and the Northern Region. The greatest mismatch between supply and demand occurred in London, followed by the West Midlands and the North West.


    East year some 3,000 people enter the Programme; and we are using the findings of the research to inform contract discussions with a view to addressing geographical imbalances over time. One key factor we take into account in these discussions is that any rapid redistribution of existing places could force people off the Programme (and potentially out of work). Many contractors also have a specific geographical rather than a national remit, for example local authorities, and cannot support people elsewhere.


    Government funding for our Supported Employment Programme for 1999-2000 is £155.1 million. A further £5 million for this financial year and the two following financial years to March 2002 has been allocated as part of a new £30 million fund for disability services, announced in 1998 by the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. We are using this additional resource to increase the grant per place to local authority and voluntary body contractors, to support developments at Remploy, and to support proposals for a series of projects to develop and test ways of improving the effectiveness of the Programme and, in particular, its success in helping people to progress into open employment. Helping those disabled people who can cope with unsupported open employment to make the transition will release places for new people to enter the Programme.


    I hope this is helpful.

Oral Statements

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list (a) the reports published by his Department and its associated bodies, (b) the reports received from bodies set up by his Department, (c) the decisions his Department has taken and (d) events in the UK and elsewhere, since 27 July, which satisfied the criteria he uses for deciding whether to apply to make oral statements to the House when the House is sitting. [93970]

Mr. Wills: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Council on 19 October 1999, Official Report, column 429.

Remploy

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what recent discussions he has had with Remploy in connection with divergence from their corporate plan. [94726]

Ms Hodge [holding answer 19 October 1999]: There have been no discussions with Remploy regarding changes to their Corporate Plan. Ministers have approved

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the strategy in the Board's Corporate Plan for 1999-2002, and remain committed to Remploy's current Corporate Plan.


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