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Unemployment (Ethnic Minorities)

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what assessment he has made of unemployment among members of ethnic minority groups; and if he will make a statement. [103248]

Ms Jowell [holding answer 21 December 1999]: Figures from the Labour Force Survey are as follows:


Level (thousand)Rate (percentage)Change in rate over last year percentage points
All ethnic minority groups1,35058.3+2.0
Other origins25560.2+1.6

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ILO unemployment

Level (thousand)Rate (percentage)Change in rate over last year percentage points
All ethnic minority groups20013.3-0.8
Other origins3512.6-1.6

(4) Sample size too small for reliable estimate


Figures are for summer 1999, not seasonally adjusted

The unemployment rate among ethnic minority groups is unacceptably high but is improving. The Government are committed to ensuring that this improvement continues and are working with key partners on a range of measures to bring about equality of opportunity in the labour market for all groups in society.

The Department's Race Relations Employment Advisory Service (RREAS) provides a free advice and consultancy service to employers to help develop and implement equal opportunity policies and practices for racial equality among the work force. The Department also publishes a range of guidance to promote racial equality in employment including "Equal Opportunities--Ten Point Plan for Employers".

The Department is working with others, including the Commission for Racial Equality, to promote the message to employers that racial diversity in the workplace is essential for good business practice. The Department has also recently established a new strategic race advisory body called the Race Education and Employment Forum. Its remit is to consider and advise Ministers on matters relating to the progress of ethnic minorities in education, employment and training.

The Department has recently led the work of the Policy Action Team on Jobs, whose members included officials from a number of Government Departments, as well as external organisations. It was asked to develop an action plan to reduce the difference between levels of worklessness in poor neighbourhoods and the national average, and within that to reduce the disproportionate unemployment rates for people from ethnic minorities. The PAT's report was published last month and its recommendations will be considered as part of the Social Exclusion Unit's work developing a national strategy for neighbourhood renewal.

The Department has also commissioned research into a wide range of aspects of the labour market experience of ethnic minority groups, including the transition from education to work, adult learning among ethnic minorities and the education and labour market position of young black men.

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Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he has received a copy of the Bourton report on Remploy; and what plans he has to make the Bourton report available to (a) hon. Members, (b) employee representatives and (c) the general public. [104095]

Ms Hodge: As the Minister responsible for Remploy, I can confirm that I have received a copy of the interim report from the Bourton Group on Remploy. This report is a commercially sensitive document about the strategic development and management of a competitive company. For that reason I do not intend to make copies of the report more widely available.

Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on progress in the consultation exercise on the future of Remploy factories. [104096]

Ms Hodge: Consultation about the current Remploy Corporate Plan (1999-2002) has been extensive. Remploy employees, trade union officials, relevant Local Authorities and local MPs/Members of the Welsh Assembly have all been given full opportunity to give input and discuss the Plan with Directors of Remploy.

In addition, since 15 September 1999 there have been five meetings between representatives of the Remploy Trades Union Consortium and the Board of Directors of Remploy to discuss the Corporate Plan for 2000-03. These meetings have been constructive. This consultation is due to finish later this month. No final decisions will be made on any modernisation proposals until this consultation is concluded.

All those with an interest in Remploy are also being invited to contribute to the Quinquennial Review of Remploy. The prior option stage of the review, which was announced in the House on 18 November, is due to be completed by the end of March 2000.

Finally, my officials have been undertaking a consultation exercise about how the Supported Employment Programme as a whole could be developed to open up more opportunities for disabled people to work and progress into open employment. A wide range of organisations and individuals have responded, including trade unions, voluntary and statutory organisations and any others with an interest in the employment of people with disabilities. The responses are currently being collated and analysed.

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Standards Fund

Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what action he is taking to reduce the bureaucracy brought about by varied bidding criteria for the Standards Fund. [104395]

Ms Estelle Morris: For the Standards Fund for 2000-01 we have reduced the number of grants allocated via competitive bidding. Seven of the 38 grants for 2000-01 required competitive bidding, compared to 10 in 1999-2000 and 14 in 1998-99.


Night Shelters

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will review the law in respect of (a) the provision of day and night shelter places to people who may be drug users and (b) the vulnerability of managers, staff and trustees of day and night shelters to charges of not preventing the use or the supply of banned drugs. [103912R]

Mr. Charles Clarke: No. Day and night shelters are subject to the provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and must operate in accordance with the law. Decisions on whether to offer day and night shelter places to people who may be drug users are for the managers of individual establishments. Managers, staff and trustees of day and night shelters should ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to prevent the supply or use of controlled drugs on the premises in accordance with the law. However, we do recognise the concerns of some agencies following the recent conviction of Ruth Wyner and John Brock and we will therefore consider, with the relevant agencies, whether further guidance is needed in this area.

Employment Statistics

Mrs. Ann Cryer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) men and (b) women in each of the standard age groups were employed in his Department and in police forces and fire departments in (i) 1979 and (ii) 1999. [104027]

Mr. Straw: The numbers of men and women employed in the standard age groups for 1999 are set out in the tables. The available published staffing figures for 1979 may be found in Civil Service Statistics 1979, a copy of which is in the Library. Where possible, information has been given at or near the 1 April 1999. It has not, however, been possible to provide Prison Service figures on this basis: this information is as at 21 December 1999. Age breakdowns for the Fire and Police Services are not available in the form requested except at disproportionate cost.

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Age bands16-1920-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950+Total
Non Prison Service Home Office as at 1 April 1999
(a) Men(5)91595418107486657601,4715,163
(b) Women322868821,1459206296431,0285,565
Grand total414451,4231,9551,6681,2941,4032,49910,728
Prison Service as at 21 December 1999
(a) Men395151,8864,6925,5524,7704,39610,12831,978
(b) Women698221,6152,0572,0541,5991,3232,01011,549
Grand total1091,3373,5016,7497,6066,3695,71912,13843,528

(5) Figures are for permanent non-industrial staff

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For the Police Service, the following figures were published in the Home Office Statistical Bulletin 14/99 on 26 August 1999 and are available in the Library.

Police Service staffing figures at March 1999


For the Fire Service, the following figures were published in the Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Fire Services for England and Wales 1998-99 in December 1999 and are available in the Library.

Fire Service staffing figures at 31 March 1999

Wholetime uniformed staff (6)33,398258
Control room staff3121,164
Retained staff (7)14,421244

(6) Wholetime is full-time operational workforce

(7) Retained staff refers to part-time firefighters employed on a retaining fee

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