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Immigration (Carriers Liability) Act 1987: Unpaid Fines

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): The total amount incurred by all carriers at 29th February 1996 was £90.73 million, of which £18.83 million remained outstanding. The charges owed by individual carriers are not disclosable for reasons of commercial confidentiality.

Mobile Telephone Use on Trains

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie): No. Any restrictions on the use of mobile phones on trains would be a matter for the individual train operating companies.

Northern Ireland Action for Community Employment

Lord Holme of Cheltenham asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Baroness Denton of Wakefield): Responsibility for the subject in question has been delegated to the Training and Employment

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Agency under its chief executive, Mr. Ian Walters.

I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Holme of Cheltenham from the Chief Executive of the Training and Employment Agency, Mr. Ian Walters, dated 11th March 1996:

Baroness Denton has asked me as Chief Executive of the Training and Employment Agency to reply to your recent question about the Action for Community Employment (ACE) programme.

    (i) The budget for ACE in the forthcoming financial year will be £39.8 million, a reduction of £12.5 million on the current year's provision. This represents a reduction of 25 per cent. in the resources available;

    (ii) and (iii) The budget allocated to ACE in 1996-97 requires a reduction of 25 per cent. in occupied places, which was applied evenly across all ACE schemes with a consequent reduction in the number of community workers they employ as a result. However the level of reduction in some schemes is likely to be ameliorated by the transitional package mentioned in answer (iv);

    (iv) In response to the many representations received on ACE, Baroness Denton announced on 19th February a package of support worth £2 million to help ACE schemes during 1996-97. The assistance will allow schemes which provide services to the needy more time to plan alternative arrangements. It will also help schemes which are losing core posts to phase them out rather than withdraw immediately. A copy of the Minister's statement is attached;

    (v) It is inevitable that the work of organisations using ACE will be affected by the reduction. This agency is very sensitive to the situation and will continue to do everything possible to minimise the impact.

I hope you find this helpful.

Baroness Denton Announces Programme to Ease ACE Changes

The Economy Minister, Baroness Denton, today announced a £2 million package of transitional help to allow ACE schemes more time to manage the reduction of activities.

The Minister said that she had considered very carefully the many representations she had received. Whilst confirming that the policy of enhancing the skills of the long term unemployed to take advantage of the new job opportunities in the Province would remain T&EA's priority, she recognised that in developing over 15 years, ACE had taken on many activities of community benefit.

Baroness Denton said: "It was never our intention to remove suddenly, services which provided essential support to the needy in the Province, the elderly, the disabled and the ill. The Agency will therefore look sympathetically at requirements from schemes in these areas to allow them time to plan

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alternative arrangements. It is probable that merging and sharing resources may well be the answer.

Additionally short term funding will be available for those schemes which are losing core posts to phase them out over the year.

In order to make this possible I have authorised an additional £2 million for the T&EA on top of the £40 million already allocated to ACE to provide 7,200 places for the long term unemployed."

The Minister also confirmed that no cuts would be greater than the 25 per cent. previously announced: queries on this should be resolved with local T&EA offices who will also resolve the detailed use of the transitional funds." (19th February 1996)

Palace of Westminster: Relocation of Staff

Lord Marlesford asked the Chairman of Committees:

    What studies have been made of the possibility of dispersing out of London those who work in the Palace of Westminster whose functions can be performed off-site by using available information technology.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): No such studies have been undertaken. The scope for relocating House of Lords staff outside Westminster without adversely affecting their ability to provide an appropriate level of service to the House is limited, and no offices have been identified as being able to perform their functions adequately through remote information technology access.

Seal Population and Fish Consumption

Lord Lewis of Newnham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the seal population in United Kingdom waters in each of the last five years; and how much fish the seals will have eaten in each of those years.

Lord Lucas: The estimated number of grey seals associated with breeding sites in British waters for the last five years for which information is available is as follows:

    1990: 79,000

    1991: 86,900

    1992: 92,800

    1993: 115,000

    1994: 108,500

The Ministry does not have comparable figures for common seals but the present population is estimated to be 29,000.

Scientific work indicates that a seal can eat between 1.4 and 1.8 tonnes of fish each year. 1994 seal numbers might thus have accounted for between 193,000 tonnes and 248,000 tonnes of fish. This compares with

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total recorded landings by the UK fleet in 1994 of 760,000 tonnes of fish (excluding shellfish).

Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994: Appeals Mechanism

Lord Vinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress is being made towards the formulation of a model appeals mechanism as provided for under Section 6 of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is today issuing for consultation a draft statutory instrument setting out the model provisions. The model appeal mechanism is designed to provide a fair and independent process for resolving disputes about enforcement across a wide range of policy areas. It provides for problems to be ironed out at the earliest stage by giving a right to be warned before enforcement action is taken, and a chance to make representations to challenge proposed enforcement action, unless immediate action is necessary. It will also require enforcers to give reasons for taking action and explain how an appeal can be made. These rights have already been applied to health and safety regulations and will shortly be applied to environmental standards, food safety and building regulations, with a range of consumer affairs legislation to follow. The model appeal mechanism provides for appeals to be considered on the merits of the case by a three person panel. Common procedural rules would apply to all enforcement appeals with time limits and active case management to ensure a simple, speedy and inexpensive process. I have arranged for copies of the consultation paper to be placed in the Library of the House.

Former Yugoslavia: USAF E-8 Joint-STARS Aircraft

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the United States Air Force E-8 Joint-STARS aircraft are operating in former Yugoslavia under NATO or under US national control.

Earl Howe: The E-8 Joint-STARS aircraft are US national assets and their command arrangements are therefore a matter for the US Government.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the United States are passing to IFOR surveillance information from their nationally controlled surveillance satellite network, from the US Air Force E-8 Joint STARS aircraft, and from their Predator unmanned aerial vehicles.

Earl Howe: It is not our practice to comment on such matters.

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