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Employment Agencies

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of inspections of employment agencies under the Employment Agencies Act 1973; how many employment agencies have been inspected under the Act in each year since 1975; and if he will make a statement. [38239]


 
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Mr. Sutcliffe: The total number of complaints and inspections undertaken by the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate since 1996 are as follows:
Complaints/inspections

Number
1997–981,325
1998–991,360
1999–20001,319
2000–011,124
2001–02854
2002–03950
2003–041,531
2004–051,504

Data for earlier years are not readily available without excessive cost. Data broken down by sector of the private recruitment industry are not available for the years before 2004.

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the average period has been between inspections of employment agencies under theEmployment Agencies Act 1973 in each year since 1975. [38268]

Mr. Sutcliffe: It is not possible to assess the average period between inspections. Inspections either follow notification of a complaint to the Employment Agency Standards (EAS) Inspectorate (when a follow up inspection may be carried relatively soon after the initial visit, if breaches of the legislation were identified), or as part of a targeted programme of inspections on the basis of risk.

Thus, as inspections are not carried out on a routine basis, no meaningful figure is available. The interval between inspections is in fact a factor of complaints received and perceived risk based on the sector(s) and area in which the agency is operating.

Employment Tribunals Service

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the national targets are for the Employment Tribunals Service; and what the performance of its offices in South Devon has been in relation to those targets. [36890]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Employment Tribunals Service has four key performance targets, related to the Employment Tribunals, which have been agreed with Ministers. The Exeter Employment Tribunal office handles claims for the South Devon area.
Percentage

TargetAchievement 2004–05Exeter
Percentage of single Employment Tribunal cases to a first hearing within 26 weeks of receipt758289
Minimum to be achieved by all offices in relation to above target656789
Percentage of Employment Tribunal decisions issued within four weeks of the final hearing858796
Percentage of Employment Tribunal users satisfied with the service offered by ETS859595.7

EU Committees

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many meetings of the EU (a) Advisory Committee on the development and reconversion of regions, (b) Advisory Committee on restrictive practices and dominant positions and (c) Advisory Committee on concentrations between undertakings have taken place during the UK Presidency of the EU; who presided over each meeting; what other UK representatives were present; what provision was made for representation of the devolved governments; and if he will make a statement. [38774]


 
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Ian Pearson: The Committee on the Development and Conversion of Regions has met three times during the current UK presidency. The committee is chaired by a Commission representative and its membership is at official level. Each member state has two seats. The DTI, which has co-ordinating responsibility for the structural funds in the UK, always attends and reports on the meetings to all structural funds departments and to the devolved Administrations. An official from ODPM attended two of the meetings. Officials from the devolved Administrations are also invited.

There were eight meetings of the Advisory Committee on restrictive practices and dominant positions during the UK presidency where the UK was represented by the Office of Fair Trading, and the Commission chaired. No provisions were made for representation of the devolved governments as this is not a devolved issue.

The Advisory Committee on concentrations between undertakings is chaired by the European Commission. It met twice during the UK presidency and officials from the Office of Fair Trading represented the UK. No provisions were made for representation of the devolved governments as this is not a devolved issue.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many meetings of the EU (a) Committee on the specific programme for research, technological development and demonstration on promotion of innovation and participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), (b) Advisory Committee for co-operation in the field of tourism and (c) Committee on conformity assessment and surveillance of the telecommunications market have taken place during the UK presidency of the EU; who was presiding over each meeting; what other UK representatives were present; what provisions were made for representation of the devolved Governments; and if he will make a statement. [38789]

Alun Michael: The information requested is as follows:

(a) The Horizontal Configuration of the Programme Committee of the FP6 Specific Programme, Integrating and Strengthening the European Research Area", which considers SME issues, has met three times during the UK's presidency of the EU. Officials from DG Research in the European Commission chaired each meeting. Officials from the Office of Science and Technology represented the United Kingdom. No representatives from devolved administrations attended.

(b) The Advisory Committee for co-operation in the field of tourism met once during the UK presidency. The Commission chaired and the meeting was attended by an official from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. DCMS always consults the devolved administrations on the agenda and papers for meetings of the Tourism Advisory Committee well in advance of the meeting and makes representations on behalf of the devolved administrations when required.

(c) A meeting of the Telecommunications Conformity Assessment and Market Surveillance Committee took place in July 2005. The Committee was chaired by a representative of the European Commission. Two officials from the Department and
 
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one from the Office of Communications attended. No provisions were made for representation of the devolved Governments, as this is not a devolved issue.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many meetings of the EU (a) Committee on common rules for imports of textile products from certain third countries (autonomous regime), (b) Advisory Committee for implementation of the Community market-access strategy and (c) Committee on the implementation of projects promoting co-operation and commercial relations between the European Union and the industrialised countries of North America, the Far East and Australasia have taken place during the UK presidency of the EU; who was presiding over each meeting; what other UK representatives were present; what provisions were made for representation of the devolved governments; and if he will make a statement. [38790]

Ian Pearson: The Committee on common rules for imports of textile products from certain third countries (autonomous regime) is commonly known as the 'Textiles Management Committee'. It met four times during the UK presidency under the chairmanship of the European Commission, and an official from DTI represented the UK. No provisions were made for representation of the devolved governments, as this is not a devolved issue.

The Advisory Committee for implementation of the Community market-access strategy met once during the UK Presidency of the EU. The meeting was chaired by the European Commission, and one DTI official attended. No provisions were made for representation of the devolved governments, as this is not a devolved issue.

The Advisory Committee on the implementation of projects promoting cooperation and commercial relations between the European Union and the industrialised countries of North America, the Far East and Australasia did not meet during the UK presidency of the EU in 2005.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many meetings of the EU (a) Committee for the management of generalised preferences, (b) Committee for the harmonisation of credit insurance provisions for transactions with medium and long-term cover and (c) Co-ordinating Group for the Community regime for the control of exports of dual-use goods have taken place during theUK presidency of the EU; who was presiding over each meeting; what other UK representatives were present; what provisions were made for representation of the devolved governments; and if he will make a statement. [38791]

Ian Pearson: The Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Committee met in Brussels once during the UK presidency on 28 November 2005. The Committee is chaired by the Commission and the UK was represented by the UK Permanent Representation to the EU. No provisions were made for representation of the devolved governments, as this is not a devolved issue.

The Committee for the harmonisation of credit insurance provisions for transactions with medium- and long-term cover did not meet during the UK presidency.
 
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During the UK presidency, the European Council Working Group on Export Credits met five times in Brussels. Officials from Export Credits Guarantee Department and HM Treasury were present. No provisions were made for representation of the devolved governments, as this is not a devolved issue.

The Co-ordinating Group for the Community regime for the control of exports of dual-use goods is a Commission chaired Group. The UK is represented by DTI officials. During the UK presidency there were four meetings of the Co-ordination Group, these were held on the following dates: 13 July 2005; 7 September 2005; 3 October 2005; and 9 November 2005. Export control is not a devolved matter therefore devolved governments were not involved in the meetings.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many meetings of the (a) Advisory Committee on standardisation in the field of information technology (Sogits), (b) Advisory Committee on telecommunications procurement (ACTP) and (c) Committee on security of information systems (SO-GIS) have taken place during the UK presidency of the EU; who presided over each meeting; which other UK representatives were present; what provision was made for representation of the devolved governments; and if he will make a statement. [38999]

Ian Pearson: I can confirm that none of the committees listed has met during the UK presidency of the EU.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many meetings of the (a) Committee for the adaptation to technical progress of directives on the removal of technical barriers to trade in the sector of colouring matters which may be added to medicinal products, (b) Committee for the adaptation to technical progress of directives on the removal of technical barriers to trade in the sector of cosmetics and (c) Advisory Committee on protection against dumped imports have taken place during the UK presidency of the EU; who presided over each meeting; which other UK representatives were present;what provision was made for representation of the devolved governments; and if he will make a statement. [39008]

Ian Pearson: The Committee for the adaptation to technical progress of directives on the removal of technical barriers met twice during the UK presidency. This Committee is chaired by the Commission and an official of the Department of Trade and Industry represented the UK. No provision was made for representation of the devolved administrations.

The Advisory Committee on protection against dumped imports is not recognised under the title given. Matters relating to dumped imports are discussed in the Anti-dumping and Anti-subsidy Committee which met six times during the UK presidency. This Committee is chaired by the Commission and an official of the Department of Trade and Industry represented the UK. Representatives of the Scottish Executive attended the Committee when measures concerning imports of farmed salmon from Norway were discussed.
 
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Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many meetings of the (a) Advisory Committee on protection against subsidised imports, (b) Advisory Committee on common rules for exports of products and (c) Quota Administration Committee have taken place during the UK presidency of the EU; who presided over each meeting; which other UK representatives were present; what provisions were made for representation of the devolved governments; and if he will make a statement. [39038]

Ian Pearson: The Advisory Committee on protection against subsidised imports is not recognised under the title given. Matters relating to subsidised imports are discussed in the Anti-dumping and Anti-subsidy Committee" which met six times during the UK presidency. This Committee is chaired by the Commission and an official of the Department of Trade and Industry represented the UK. Representatives of the Scottish Executive attended the Committee when measures concerning imports of farmed salmon from Norway were discussed.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many meetings of the (a) Advisory Committee on common rules for imports of products from third countries, (b) Advisory Committee on common rules for imports from certain third world countries and (c) Committee on defence against obstacles to trade which affect the market of the Community or a non-member country have taken place during the UK presidency of the EU; who presided over each meeting; which other UK representatives were present; what provisions were made for representation of the devolved Governments; and if he will make a statement. [39039]

Ian Pearson: The Advisory Committees on common rules for imports of products from third countries, and on certain third world countries are not recognised under the titles given.

The Committee on defence against obstacles to trade which affect the market of the Community or non-member country met once during the UK presidency. This Committee is chaired by the Commission and an official of the Department of Trade and Industry represented the UK. No provision was made for representation of the devolved administrations.


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