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6 Jun 1995 : Column WA91

Written Answers

Tuesday, 6th June 1995.

War Crimes Act 1991: Prosecution Decisions

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When it is expected that the Crown Prosecution Service will reach decisions on whether to prosecute in the remaining cases investigated under the War Crimes Act 1991.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): Following initial advice from Treasury Counsel, further inquiries are in hand in relation to certain potential defendants. Decisions as to possible prosecutions will be taken as soon as all the relevant evidence has been fully considered and analysed.

MAFF and DoE: Merger Proposal

Lord Gallacher asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of a proposal by the Scottish Office to bring together the current work of the Agriculture and Fisheries Department and the Environment Department's work on water, pollution control, forestry, rural affairs and conservation, consideration will be given to a comparable departmental merger of these functions in England and Wales.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): The Government believe that the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Department of the Environment work effectively together, and have no plans to merge their functions, or functions of the Welsh Office, in a single department.

Nolan Report: Implementation of Recommendations

Lord Harris of Greenwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to the recommendations in paragraphs 48, 51, 52, 53, 55 and 61 of the First Report by the Committee on Standards in Public Life (Cm. 2850).

Earl Howe: The Government have already stated their intention to provide a detailed response to the recommendations that the committee has singled out for early implementation before the summer Recess.

Youth Training Courses

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is, (a) the median duration; and (b) the average duration; of a youth training course; and whether these figures have changed since 1991.

Lord Inglewood: Accurate information is available only on the time trainees spend with individual training providers. That is not the full length of stay on a Youth

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Training (YT) programme, as an individual can train with a number of different training providers.

The average length of stay with an individual training provider of those trainees who left YT in the period April 1994 to January 1995 was 40 weeks. The median duration was 27 weeks. The average length of stay with an individual training provider of those trainees who left YT in 1991–92 was 49 weeks. The median duration was 38 weeks.

Volunteering

Lord Cochrane of Cults asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the report of the Make a Difference Team on volunteering in the UK will be published.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): The report prepared by the Make a Difference Team, Make a Difference: An Outline Volunteering Strategy for the UK, was published today. Copies have been placed in the Library. We are very grateful to the members of the Make a Difference Team for their hard work and commitment in producing such a thorough report, with a wide range of recommendations.

Together with the report's publications, we announced the Government's response to the key recommendations it contained.

We have today set out an action plan: we will fund the creation of local volunteer development agencies in those parts of the country where no equivalent bodies exist now; our intention is to ensure country-wide coverage before the end of the century; the establishment of a new national body in England, the Volunteering Partnership; its key tasks will be to advise us on promoting volunteering specially by young and older people, to stimulate the development of the local agencies and to ensure the development of opportunities for young people; we are putting in place Youth Challenge, a scheme to ensure that by the end of 1997 there will be volunteering opportunities for all 15 to 25 year-olds who wish to volunteer; individual applications have been invited for grants of up to £30,000 for 50 imaginative projects to promote volunteering by young and older people; a new UK-wide Make a Difference award to recognise outstanding contributions by volunteering organisations; a publicity campaign to promote volunteering.

Volunteers make a contribution of immeasurable value to this country. People who give up their time to help others greatly enrich their communities. Many millions already volunteer in this country, and many organisations

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support them. But there remains great untapped potential in those who could volunteer but choose not to. Our announcement today, which stresses that Every Hour Makes a Difference, will directly help to realise that potential.

Boundary Commission Report

Viscount Mersey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they propose to take on the fourth periodical report of the Boundary Commission for England.

Baroness Blatch: We have today laid before Parliament the fourth periodical report of the Boundary Commission for England together with a draft Order in Council for giving effect, without modifications, to the recommendations contained in the report.

Social Security Budget

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Secretary of State for Social Security's interview with The Independent (22 May 1995) in which he stated a desire to reduce his budget by attempting to "restrict the numbers entitled", whether they have any reason to believe this policy will result in a reduction of public expenditure as a whole.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Social Security made it clear in his interview that it is the Government's intention to make sure that social security benefits go to those who need them. This can be achieved by restricting the number entitled or by removing the need in the first place, either through self-provision or by creating jobs and incentives to take them.

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Measures announced in the last two budgets which help to achieve this objective are expected to reduce projected expenditure by £4 billion a year by the end of the century. Major changes include the introduction of Incapacity Benefit, the strategy to improve the security of benefit payments and to tackle fraud and abuse, and, subject to the passage of the necessary legislation, the new jobseeker's allowance.

Social Security Advisory Committee Recommendations on Regulations

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many times and on what occasions since 1989 the Social Security Advisory Committee has recommended that regulations be not proceeded with, and how many of these regulations have been proceeded with and on what occasions.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Since 1989, the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) has recommended in six reports on regulations that they be not proceeded with as drafted. In one case, in November 1991, the proposal was withdrawn and no report was published. In the remaining five cases, reports were published as Command Papers with the revised statutory instruments. The relevant information is set out below:

SSAC Reports on regulations since 1989 where the primary recommendation was not to proceed with the proposed amendments as drafted

Report published as Command Paper number Date Recommendation not to proceed accepted?
1662 September 1991 Yes
2099 November 1992 No
2609 July 1994 No
2783 March 1995 No
2858 May 1995 Yes



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