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Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

Mr. Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps have been taken to control the export of television broadcast equipment to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; and if he will make a statement. [104574]

Mr. Vaz: As of 5 January 2000, we have introduced an amendment to the Export of Goods (Control) Order to control the export to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) of television cameras, transmitters, codecs and transposers, satellite earth stations and up-and-down link equipment and transmission link and relay equipment. All applications to export these goods will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

We have introduced the control because of our concerns that companies based in the UK may consider supplying this equipment to the state-run television company in the FRY. This company is a propaganda tool of the Milosevic regime and has been consistently used by the regime to defend and promote its repressive policies, most recently and noticeably during the Kosovo crisis.

Wassenaar Arrangement

Mr. Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the results of the 1999 Assessment of the Wassenaar Arrangement and the role played by the UK. [104575]

Mr. Vaz: The 1999 Assessment of the operation of the Wassenaar Arrangement was concluded at the Arrangement's annual Plenary in Vienna on 1-3 December. The agreed public statement on the Plenary is available on the Arrangement's website (

We welcome the decision by Participating States to expand the scope of their reporting on their transfers of certain types of conventional arms. As a result, arms pillar reporting requirements in the Wassenaar Arrangement will now for the first time extend beyond those in the UN Registrar of Conventional Arms. We also welcome the Plenary's decisions to structure the information exchange on the basis of global and regional views--as a result of a proposal by the UK--and to mandate the introduction of a secure electronic information system. These steps will greatly increase the value and accessibility of information exchanged by Participating States.

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Despite these positive developments, we regret that proposals to include other types of arms in the reporting requirements, including small arms and light weapons, warships of 150-750 metric tonnes displacement and missiles of less than 25km range, were not agreed due to opposition from a small minority of Participating States. We also regret that the Plenary did not agree that Participating States should provide details of decisions to refuse the transfer of military equipment, or details of end-users in all denial notifications for dual-use goods. We continue to believe that these improvements would significantly enhance the ability of Participating States to identify potentially destabilising transfers or accumulation of conventional arms and dual-use goods.

Throughout the course of the 1999 Assessment, most of which was taken forward in the Arrangement's General Working Group under UK chairmanship, the UK has been at the forefront of efforts to increase the effectiveness of the Wassenaar Arrangement. In particular we co- sponsored and lobbied in support of proposals for a substantive increase in arms pillar transparency. We will continue this year to work for the further expansion of reporting requirements, to include in particular transfers of small arms and light weapons. We will also consider the scope for expanding our existing commitment to volunteer details of our transfers of certain types of conventional arms which are not covered by the mandatory reporting requirements.


Private Sector Secondments

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many staff were seconded from the private sector to her Department in (a) May 1997 to April 1998, (b) May 1998 to April 1999 and (c) May 1999 to the latest date for which figures are available, stating in each case the companies from which staff have been seconded. [103604]

Mr. Stringer: The numbers of private sector secondees to the Cabinet Office over the last three years follow.

Outsourcing Arrangements

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what arrangements she has made to ensure (a) the continued input of expertise and (b) the effective monitoring of the implementation of the recommendations of the review of major Government IT projects after the expiry of Anne Steward's secondment to the Government. [104243]

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Mr. Ian McCartney: The recommendations to improve the delivery of major Government IT projects being developed by the Cabinet Office review team will include a clear statement of which parts of Government will be responsible for their implementation and monitoring.

The study team is consulting widely to draw on the range of expertise available within the Government, and in the private sector and public sector overseas, as its work progresses. It is also considering mechanisms to ensure that expertise is available to public sector projects in the future.

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what estimate her Department has made of the impact on the ability of Government Departments to assess bids for the outsourcing of their operations of having previously outsourced all or part of their IT operations. [104244]

Mr. Ian McCartney: All Departments are required to conduct detailed analysis of the costs and benefits of any outsourcing arrangement, including its impact on all aspects of their operation.

The team set up in the Department's Central IT Unit to review major Government IT projects is examining issues relating to the outsourcing of IT functions. The team will make recommendations to ensure that Government IT projects, including outsourcing deals, perform better in the future when it concludes its work in May 2000.

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) if she will issue guidance to Government Departments on monitoring the rate of retention of staff of companies to which work has been outsourced by them in the 12 months following the date of the outsourcing; [104245]

Mr. Stringer: I published, on Friday 7 January 2000, a "Statement of Practice for Staff Transfers in the Public Sector". This follows a public consultation undertaken last year which received widespread support.

The Statement of Practice sets out the Government's policy for ensuring fair and consistent treatment of employees' rights where the public sector is the employer or client in a contracting-out or subsequent retendering situation. The guidance does not require Departments to monitor the rate of retention following a transfer. The approach adopted in the "Statement of Practice", which has the support of unions, public and private sector

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employers and contractors, is to utilise the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)--TUPE--Regulations which give individual employment protection rights to employees affected by the relevant transfer.

Contracting-out and subsequent retendering will all be conducted on the basis that staff will transfer and TUPE should apply, unless there are genuinely exceptional reasons not to do so. Under TUPE, an employee's contract is carried across from the transferring employer along with his or her accrued period of service. Terms and conditions of employment cannot be made less beneficial as part of this process and employees cannot normally be lawfully dismissed where the reason is the transfer. Under this approach, staff of Government Departments should transfer to a contractor with TUPE protections and, where a contract is not renewed (by either the contractor or contracting authority), former staff of Government should transfer with TUPE protections to the new contractor. Similar considerations would also apply to sub-contracting.

Copies of "Statement of Practice for Staff Transfers in the Public Sector" are in the Libraries of the House.

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