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Unemployment Rates

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Acton from the Director of the Office for National Statistics, Dr. T. Holt, dated 18 March 1998.

I have been asked to reply, as Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), to your recent question on the current rate of unemployment in (a) the United Kingdom, (b) Canada, (c) France, (d) Germany, (e) Italy, (f) Japan, and (g) the United States of America.

Figures based on the internationally recognised International Labour Organisation (ILO) definition of unemployment provide an appropriate basis for international comparisons. The ILO measure of unemployment, as derived from the Labour Force Survey, defines somebody as unemployed if they are without a job at the time of interview, were available to start work in the two weeks following their interview and had either looked for work in the four weeks prior to interview or were waiting to start a job they had already obtained. The ILO unemployment rate gives the number

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of the ILO unemployed as a percentage of the economically active.

Standardised unemployment rates are published monthly by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. These rates are calculated by taking the latest available ILO measure from each country's Labour Force Survey and projecting the results forward using recent movements in their particular administrative measure (the claimant count in the case of the UK).

The following table gives the information requested.

Seasonally Adjusted Standardised Unemployment Rates December 1997

Rate (per cent.)
United Kingdom6.6
United States of America4.7


OECD Main Economic Indicators monthly publication.

*All figures refer to December 1997 except Italy (October 1997).

Crime Prevention Expenditure

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of total central and local government expenditure on crime prevention in England and Wales in each of the next three financial years; what savings they expect this spending will produce; and whether they are designing mechanisms to enable the benefits of these savings to be appropriately shared between government departments, agencies and local authorities, both nationally and internationally.[HL1016]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The information requested on expenditure is not available. Crime reduction work is funded from a range of central government programmes, often in partnership with local authorities and other agencies, and by local authorities directly from their own budgets. Expenditure on crime reduction is not recorded separately.

Firearms Compensation: Fraudulent Claims

Lord Burton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In how many police constabulary areas, with names, in England, Wales and Scotland there have been, or are, investigations into fraud in connection with the Firearms Act 1997 Compensation Scheme; how many police officers and civilians, of what grade, are or have been suspended, and on what dates, giving the relevant constabulary name in each case.[HL998]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We are aware of current and past investigations into potential fraud in relation to

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firearms compensation claims in five police areas: Nottinghamshire; South Yorkshire; Devon and Cornwall; Essex; and the Metropolitan Police. In the South Yorkshire case, three police constables and one civilian employee have been suspended from duty pending the outcome of the investigation. The dates of suspension were 13 November 1997, 12 December 1997, 28 January 1998 and 18 February 1998. In the other cases, the investigations relate to the possibility of attempted deception by claimants, with no indication of police involvement. One is at the preliminary enquiry stage, and criminal charges have been laid in two cases.

However, the number of attempted deceptions must be seen in the context of over 40,000 compensation claims received by the Firearms Compensation Section. Officials will continue to examine the remaining claims closely, drawing possible discrepancies to the attention of the police for further investigation. This examination of claims is a detailed but essential task.

Corwen Bypass

Baroness Gardner of Parkes asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the fact that present and projected traffic levels no longer justify the construction of the Corwen Bypass/Inner Relief Road on the A.5 between Chirk and Llandegai, they will remove the blight being caused by the present safeguarding of the route for this scheme.[HL1021]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: In March 1997, the Welsh Office announced that decisions on improvements at Corwen would be deferred until the feasibility of an inner relief road scheme had been assessed. This now forms part of the overall review of the Welsh trunk road programme launched on 31 July 1997. No decisions on whether to withdraw the projected route for the bypass can be made until the review has been completed.

London Fire Service: Proposed Reductions

Lord Shepherd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What decision has been made on the application under Section 19 of the Fire Services Act 1947 of the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority to reduce its firefighting resources.[HL1102]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Mr. George Howarth) has today advised the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has agreed to its application to close the Barbican and Shooters Hill fire stations, to change the arrangements for the provision of fire cover on the River Thames and to make a consequent reduction in the establishment of London Fire Brigade of 80 firefighting posts.

The statutory responsibility for the provision of an efficient fire service rests with the local fire authority.

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In considering applications by fire authorities for reductions in firefighting resources, my right honourable friend has to be satisfied that there has been adequate consultation and that, following any reductions, national standards of fire cover can continue to be maintained. In fulfilling this function, my right honourable friend relies on advice from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Fire Services.

Both my right honourable friend and my honourable friend are satisfied that the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority has consulted widely over its proposals. There has also been opportunity over some months for representations to be made direct to the Home Office and a considerable number, including representations from right honourable and honourable Members, have been received. These have all been thoroughly considered, particularly those relating to the proposed closure of the fire stations at the Barbican and Shooters Hill. We have taken into account the points raised by honourable Members in the debate on the Adjournment in another place on 10 March. We have sought the professional advice of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Fire Services, and, specifically, of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector.

The advice that we have received from Her Majesty's Chief Inspector is unequivocal that, following the proposed reductions, the London Fire Brigade would still be able to meet fully the agreed national standards of fire cover in the areas immediately affected by the changes and elsewhere in the capital. The Chief Inspector has, in particular, confirmed that the authority's proposal to cover the fireground currently served by Shooters Hill from the fire stations at East Greenwich, Plumstead, Woolwich, Eltham, Lee Green and Bexley is wholly consistent with the continued maintenance of the national standards, as is the proposal to cover the Barbican fireground from the fire stations at Dowgate, Clerkenwell and Shoreditch.

Taking full account of this advice and after the most careful consideration, my right honourable friend has therefore decided to approve the authority's application. The implementation of these proposed changes is now a matter for the authority.

Scottish Agricultural Science Agency: Framework Document

Lord Ewing of Kirkford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the revised Framework Document for the Scottish Agricultural Science Agency will be published.[HL1083]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): The revised framework document has been published today and a copy will be placed in the Library.

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Scotland: Rating of Riding Schools and Livery Stables

Lord Rowallan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will instruct assessors in Scotland to follow the same practices as suggested by the British Horse Society, the Association of British Riding Schools and the British Show Jumping Association to the English valuation officers in the agreed practice note of 1995 with regard to the rating of riding schools and livery stables.[HL950]

Lord Sewel: The Government have no powers to direct Scottish assessors in the way requested. It is for assessors to develop their own schemes of valuation on a professional basis. Rights of appeal are of course available to ratepayers in the usual way.

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