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Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The data published by Experian draw on the sales ledger information of many different companies and report the number of days the subject company takes to pay its invoices. One very good reason for apparently lengthy payment periods among some companies is that many agree terms of 60 or more days. Seemingly slow payers could therefore, actually, be paying within the terms agreed with their suppliers.

The Government are, however, commited to improving the payment culture of the UK and have introduced a range of measures to help businesses tackle the problem of late payment of commercial debt, including the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. In addition, the Government support the recently approved EC directive on combating late payment in commercial transactions and propose to consult the businesss community during transposition.

We recognise, however, that legislation is one part of a package of measures introduced to improve payment practices in the UK and will continue to work in partnership with the business community, through the Better Payment Practice Group (BPPG), to help businesses benefit from the increased opportunities that a healthy cash flow can bring.

New Deal Start-ups

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Under the New Deal for Young People, how many young people have opted for (a) training and (b) self employment, giving figures separately for England and South Yorkshire.[HL2902]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): To the end of March 2000, the number of young people who have started on New Deal Options, all of which have a training element, and those that have started self employment is shown as follows:

Option StartsSelf Employment
South Yorkshire16,220245

School ICT Funding and Language Laboratories

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a school with good Information Communication Technology (ICT) facilities but with a need for language laboratories is entitled to spend a Government grant for ICT facilities on language laboratories instead.[HL2976]

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Baroness Blackstone: It depends on the condition of the grant, but normally if the grant is for ICT then the expenditure should be confined to ICT. However, if, for example, a school was to use an ICT grant to put ICT facilities into a language laboratory and were then to use that laboratory to teach a range of subjects, we would regard that as being a reasonable use of such funding.

Learning and Skills Councils: Funding of Objective 3 Activities

Lord Smith of Leigh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they intend to allocate European Objective 3 funds to individual Learning and Skills Councils. [HL2891]

Baroness Blackstone: We intend to involve the Learning and Skills Council in the delivery of European Social Fund (ESF) Objective 3 activities, subject to the passage of the Learning and Skills Bill. Our aim is to move to a co-financing approach to improve the targeting and simplify the delivery of this element of ESF. The detailed implementation arrangements have yet to be finalised, and are subject to consultation, but the intention is that local Learning and Skills Councils will apply to the Objective 3 Regional Committees for the allocations in respect of learning and skills activities in their areas. The local councils would then contract with providers to deliver specified activities which met the objectives of the LSC and the Objective 3 Regional Development Plan. The local councils would allocate to those providers both ESF funds and any LSC funds needed to match them.

New Deal Participants: Sanctions

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Blackstone (WA 136) that "there is evidence that those who are sanctioned subsequently comply with the responsibilities they have as New Deal participants", what is the nature of that evidence, what points it demonstrates, and where it is to be found. [HL2966]

Baroness Blackstone: The vast majority of young people sanctioned for not attending New Deal options as required are only sanctioned on one occasion. We take that to be evidence that those participants who are sanctioned subsequently comply with their responsibilities.

Welfare: Rights and Responsibilities

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the remark by the Secretary of State for Education and Employment in a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research on 7 June that

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    "in return for measures which increase people's security, it is right to insist on strict enforcement of the responsibilities which people have in return for benefit", whether they will provide a comprehensive list of what they believe those responsibilities are.[HL2967]

Baroness Blackstone: The remark was made in the context of jobseeker's allowance (JSA), which is an active benefit. The three labour market conditions of entitlement for JSA are that jobseekers must be available for work, must seek work actively each week, and must enter into a jobseeker's agreement setting out the type of work they are looking for and the steps they intend to take in order to find it. In addition, jobseekers are liable to a benefit sanction if they cause or prolong their own unemployment through certain acts or omissions which they could reasonably have avoided.

Certain jobseekers have other specific obligations: for example, the New Deal for Young People offers high quality help and support to young people who have been unemployed for more than six months. In return, participants are expected to find work or to take up one of the four options offered. There is no option of remaining on benefit without participation.

South Downs: Expenditure Plans

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What additional funding has been sought by the Countryside Agency for a new restoration initiative to restore open downland and provide access to it in the South Downs; whether such funding includes a number of mechanisms which would allow the Countryside Agency, or another body, to purchase targeted land on the open market; and whether they can confirm that £60 million has been allocated to the Countryside Agency or other bodies for the purpose of restoration work in the South Downs.[HL2924]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): We are considering Countryside Agency expenditure plans from 2001-02 to 2003-04 as part of the Spending Review 2000. Decisions about future funding will be taken following the announcement by Her Majesty's Treasury of the overall settlement for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, which is expected in July. Details of the Spending Review are not disclosed until finally announced.

Chinook Helicopter Accident

Lord Chalfont asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Chinook Mark 2 had a complete set of Flight Reference Cards at the time of the fatal crash of ZD576 in June 1994; and if so, whether they included drills covering the possibility of Full

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    Authority Digital Electronic Control (FADEC) malfunctions.[HL2926]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Chinook Mk2 had a complete set of Flight Reference Cards in June 1994. These contained all the normal and emergency operating drills in force at that time, including drills for a possible FADEC malfunction.

Military Wrecks

Lord Onslow of Woking asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What applications have been received for the designation of the wreck of a military vessel in United Kingdom waters under the provisions of the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.[HL2771]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My department has received two applications for designation of military wrecks that lie in UK territorial waters under the provisions of the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.

They relate to HMS "Royal Oak" and the Submarine H5.

Lord Onslow of Woking asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they intend to take to protect the sites of military wrecks in United Kingdom waters where these are known or believed to contain the remains of crew or passengers of the vessel concerned.[HL2772]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Ministry of Defence, together with other government departments, has been assisting with diving associations' plans for self regulation through the development of a code of practice for diving on wrecks.

The aim of the code is to re-educate divers to adopt best practices when diving on all wrecks. Current training and other publications issued by the diving organisations will be reviewed to take account of the legal and moral responsibilities of those who dive on wrecks. In addition, a new wreck law course is being piloted. Information on "respecting our wrecks" already appears on the diving associations' web sites.

Mechanisms for enforcement of the code of practice and other initiatives, which could result in expulsion from an organisation, are already in place in the associations' constitutions. Any member behaving in a way calculated to be prejudicial to the interests of the club could be expelled. The diving organisations are fully committed to changing the way a small minority abuse the wrecks they dive on.

It is expected that this code will be introduced by the diving associations shortly. The Government will assess compliance with the code and review policy accordingly in the light of subsequent developments.

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