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Flower Imports

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what was the value of flowers imported into the UK from non-EU sources in each year since 1990. [113028]

Mr. Caborn: The information is given in the table.

UK Imports of bulbs, tubers, etc; and cut flowers from non-EU countries
£000

YearBulbs, tubers etc Cut flowers and budsTotal
199018440,84941,033
199120549,37249,576
199221754,78455,001
199321757,86458,081
199432563,08963,414
199521368,10568,317
199634972,27172,620
199748971,05771,545
199843964,82565,265
199934266,69967,040

Source:

Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom, HM Customs and Excise


21st Century Faxes Ltd.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will implement measures to deal with the activities of 21st Century Faxes Ltd. [113038]

Ms Hewitt: It is not the practice of my Department to discuss the affairs of individual companies. If the hon. Member has information he considers should be drawn to my attention, I would be happy to receive this.

International Price Comparisons

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his answer of 28 February 2000, Official Report, column 50W, on international price comparisons, which national Sunday newspapers were not represented at the briefing session on 11 February. [113021]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 3 March 2000]: Representatives of all the national Sunday newspapers were invited to attend. Our records show that representatives of the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday People did not attend.

Telephone Service Disruption

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what inquiries (a) he and (b) Oftel have started into the major faults in computers which disrupted 0845 telephone number access, NHS Direct Services and

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other services in the week beginning 21 February; and what action is to be taken to ensure that the telecommunications infrastructure is not disrupted again. [113178]

Ms Hewitt: The regulation of telecommunications operators is the responsibility of Oftel. Oftel has asked BT for a full report of this network failure and for details of the measures BT will put in place to minimise the risk of this kind of failure happening again. Oftel takes network reliability very seriously and it will scrutinise carefully BT's report. When BT has completed its investigations Oftel will discuss the incident with BT and examine whether any further action will be required to ensure that the risks of further disruption are minimised.

SCOTLAND

Departmental Employees

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what percentage of the total work force in his Department is registered as disabled; and what steps he is taking to encourage the employment of disabled people in his Department. [102041]

Dr. Reid: At 1 January 2000 no staff from the Scotland Office had self declared a disability in terms of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. (The procedure under which people could formerly be registered disabled ceased on 2 December 1999).

Recruitment advertisements and associated information will make it clear that my Department is an equal opportunity employer and will carry the Employment Services Disability symbol, highlighting its commitment to people with disabilities and a positive approach to staff who have a disability.

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what percentage of the total work force in his Department is of ethnic minority origin; and what steps he is taking to encourage the employment of people from the ethnic minorities in his Department. [102729]

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many senior civil servants from an ethnic minority background are employed in his Department; and how many of them are (a) men and (b) women. [110677]

Dr. Reid: Information on the ethnic origin of civil servants is collected using a voluntary, confidential questionnaire. To protect the privacy of individual staff, data relating to fewer than five people are not disclosed in equal opportunities monitoring. Information is therefore not available for my Department for the total percentage of the work force who are from an ethnic minority background.

Action is being taken across the civil service to address the under-representation of ethnic minorities. As part of that, my Department will seek ways to encourage more applications from ethnic minority communities.

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EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

Employment Figures

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many people have left the New Deal for young people for jobs lasting less than 13 weeks but have been included in the number leaving for sustained employment as a result of not having returned to jobseeker's allowance. [105699]

Ms Jowell [holding answer 18 January 2000]: We define sustained jobs as those where the employee is working for at least 13 weeks and does not return to claim jobseeker's allowance (JSA) in that time. If they do return to JSA we drop them from the sustained jobs figure. Using this definition, under the New Deal for young people, 126,190 have found sustained employment. We are not at present able to measure how many, if any, will have left these jobs within 13 weeks and chosen not to claim JSA.

Benefits (Somerset)

Mr. Ashdown: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many people have had their benefits stopped for failing properly to take up a New Deal option, at each benefit office within the Yeovil constituency and at the Taunton office; and if he will make a statement. [110797]

Ms Jowell: Between 1 April 1999 and 30 September 1999 (the latest date for which data are available), 540 young people started on New Deal and at any one time there were just over 700 young people participating in New Deal in the Employment Service's Somerset Unit of Delivery. During this six month period, eight sanctions were imposed for failing to attend a New Deal option in Somerset. This figure cannot be disaggregated to constituency level. The Somerset Unit of Delivery includes the jobcentres in Taunton, Yeovil, Bridgwater, Burnham-on-Sea, Chard, Frome, Minehead, Street, Wellington and Wells.

Education Maintenance Allowances

Mr. Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many education maintenance allowances have been awarded in each region to date. [111664]

Mr. Wicks: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, South-West (Dr. Starkey) on 2 March 2000, Official Report, columns 393-94W.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the progress of the 12 pilot schemes for education maintenance allowances. [113121]

Mr. Wicks: We are encouraged by the success so far in the overall take up of EMAs, which are being piloted in 15 local education authority areas. EMAs have the potential to make a real difference to the life chances of young people and are an innovative way of helping those with financial difficulties to stay in education.

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It is too early to identify the impact which EMAs will have on participation rates, although they have increased in all the pilot areas. Anecdotal information suggests that EMAs are helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds remain in education, when otherwise they may not have participated. A number of institutions have also reported that EMAs have had a positive effect on attendance, effort and discipline. Students recognise that if they want to have the allowance, they have a responsibility to attend regularly and adhere to their learning agreement.

There is a sophisticated evaluation programme in place for the duration of the pilot which will provide more information in due course.

Disabled People

Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans he has to expand the clubhouse movement as a way of assisting people with disabilities on the New Deal. [111413]

Ms Hodge: The Government fully support the aim of the Clubhouse movement which engages members and staff together in order to get people with mental health problems back into open paid employment. We are currently considering how the New Deal for Disabled People can best develop and will consider as part of that what role the Clubhouse movement could play.

Secondary School Places

Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many secondary age pupils are without a school place in each year group in each London borough; what assistance his Department provides to find places for these children; and if he will make a statement. [111984]

Ms Estelle Morris: This information is not collected centrally by my Department. Section 14 of the Education Act 1996 places a duty on individual LEAs to ensure that there are sufficient school places for all children of compulsory school age in their area. Each LEA must produce annually a School Organisation Plan, which is a 5 year rolling plan, setting out how they propose to remedy any excess or insufficiency of school places and to make provision for children with special educational needs. Plans are approved at local level by the School Organisation Committee for the area or, if they cannot agree, by an independent Adjudicator. All but two London boroughs have had the Plans they published in 1999 approved by their local School Organisation Committee.


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