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Cockle Gathering

Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has held with Secretaries in the National Assembly for Wales on the prohibition on cockle gathering in the Burny Inlet caused by diarrhetic shellfish poisoning. [34532]

Mr. Touhig: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I regularly meet Assembly Ministers and cockle gathering is an issue which has been discussed.

In addition, I recently met representatives of the cockle-gathering industry in the Gower together with the Assembly Member for that constituency, Edwina Hart.

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I have been made fully aware of the problems that the cockle gatherers are facing, the difficulties caused by the cockle beds being closed for eight months and the impact that that has had on their industry and livelihood.

Asthma

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many local education authorities in Wales are implementing an asthma policy. [36903]

Mr. Paul Murphy: This is a matter for the National Assembly for Wales.

Cynon Valley

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many (a) job losses have been announced and (b) new jobs have been created in the Cynon Valley for each year since 1997; and what percentage were unemployed in February (i) 2002 and (ii) 1997. [40531]

Mr. Paul Murphy: There is no authoritative record of announced job losses and gains.

The percentage of unemployed claimants in the Cynon Valley Parliamentary Constituency stood at 7.1 per cent. in January 2002 (the latest available figure). The equivalent figure in January 1997 was 16.1 per cent.

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales about the use of European structural funds to create employment in the Cynon Valley. [40537]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I meet regularly with the First Minister when we discuss a range of issues affecting Wales.

The Cynon Valley is within the designated Objective 1 area. A key aim of the Objective 1 programme is to promote growth in employment and increase economic activity by developing small and medium sized businesses and encouraging community economic regeneration and rural development.

Two major projects under the Rhondda Cynon Taff Partnership have been approved. Funding of £2.5 million has been made available for the Glamorgan Centre for Information and £1.4 million for a grant scheme for small to medium sized enterprises.

It is also appropriate to mention that the Assembly's Wales European Funding Office itself has a significant presence in the Cynon Valley.

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales regarding prospects for manufacturing growth through inward investment in the Cynon Valley; [40530]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I meet regularly with the First Minister to discuss a range of issues affecting Wales. The National Assembly and their partners in Team Wales are committed to

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promoting all areas of Wales to potential overseas investors. Their aim is to encourage manufacturing growth alongside service sector developments to ensure a diverse, successful Welsh economy.

Welsh Development Agency

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales about the work of the Welsh Development Agency in (a) Cynon Valley, (b) Rhondda, Cynon, Taff and (c) Wales. [40535]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I meet regularly with the First Minister to discuss a range of issues affecting Wales.

The Welsh Development Agency has an all-Wales remit to further economic development, promote industrial efficiency and international competitiveness, and to improve the environment. In drawing up its plans and policies, the agency takes account of the balance of need between the regions in Wales, in terms of the amount and nature of the assistance that each requires in order to maximise its potential and that of Wales as a whole.

The Cynon Valley, and Rhondda Cynon Taff as a whole will benefit from being within the Objective 1 area, giving it priority for economic regeneration.

Relocation Expenses

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what his policy is on the payment of relocation expenses to staff in his Department. [41015]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The permanent civil servants in my Department are all secondees from elsewhere and so would ordinarily qualify for (temporary) detached duty terms rather than (permanent) relocation. If ever it became appropriate, however, the Wales Office would pay relocation expenses in accordance with the approach set out in the Terms and Conditions of Service of the National Assembly for Wales.

WORK AND PENSIONS

Statutory Instruments

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the statutory instruments issued by his Department in the last 12 months, indicating (a) the purpose of each and (b) the cost of each to (i) public funds, (ii) businesses and (iii) individuals. [36235]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

From 1 March 2002, explanatory memoranda will be provided for all affirmative instruments as announced by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, 1 February 2002, Official Report, column 585.

Disability Benefits

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if the remuneration of SchlumbergerSema Medical Services under the contract with his Department to assess entitlements to disability benefits is linked with the proportion of claims for disability benefits which are successful. [40789]

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Mr. Nicholas Brown: There is no link between the charges for services provided by SchlumbergerSema, for medical advice and guidance, and the outcome of claims for disability benefits.

Employer Direct

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the performance of Employer Direct in finding work for unemployed people. [34661]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Employer Direct is a new service that enables employers to notify job vacancies to the Department using a unique telephone number. It provides a more efficient and effective service, available for longer hours than previously when employers notified vacancies through their local jobcentres.

Employer Direct is still under development. However, evidence from an earlier pilot suggests that it does attract more vacancies and that the information collected about those vacancies is more comprehensive and clear, thus presenting unemployed people with a wider and better choice of job vacancies. The Department began to collect statistics about the number of calls to Employer Direct in March 2001. Since then, over 875,000 calls have been received by this telephone helpline (figures correct to the end of December 2001).

Benefits Offices (Facilities)

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his policy is towards the provision of (a) toilet and (b) child facilities for claimants using benefits offices; and if he will make a statement. [29746]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Public toilets have not traditionally been a feature in Jobcentres and Benefits Agency offices. However staff are sympathetic to the needs of customers, especially those with children, and can and do make staff toilets available where possible. This position has been reviewed with the introduction of the Jobcentre Plus Pathfinder offices, and the generic design includes the provision of toilets for both disabled and able-bodied customers. However, space limitations in the 56 recently completed Pathfinder offices has meant that the provision of toilets has not been possible in most sites.

The new Jobcentre Plus design and layout is being evaluated and we will endeavour to ensure that the provision of toilets becomes a more prominent and consistent feature.

The presence of children in Jobcentre/Jobcentre Plus offices has been an increasing consideration in their design over recent years, especially since the introduction of the new deal for lone parents. All public Employment Service offices have acknowledged this presence in the design of furniture components with rounded edges and

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concealed cable management arrangements. Child facilities have not traditionally been a feature in Benefits Agency offices.

However the introduction of Jobcentre Plus has allowed for this need to be further addressed. Many of the Pathfinders have children's play tables installed both in waiting areas and adjacent to the parent adviser desks. These allow for parents and guardians to participate in interviews with less distraction while still keeping a close eye on the children. Customer waiting times have been reduced by arranging timed appointments for advisory interviews.


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