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31 Mar 1998 : Column WA13

Written Answers

Tuesday, 31st March 1998.

UN Population Fund

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the British representative on the Executive Board of the United Nations Population Fund supported its decision to renew its population control programme in China.[HL1164]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The purpose of the United Nations Population Fund's new programme of assistance to China is to make quality, client-orientated reproductive health services available to Chinese men and women in 32 countries on a voluntary basis, in accordance with the standards of reproductive health care upheld at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. The UK supports this programme strongly.


Lord Russell-Johnston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking under the Presidency of the European Union to reconsider the European Union's policy towards the problems in Kosovo in order to allow discussion of the option of Kosovo independence.[HL1039]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: In addition to the action taken by the Presidency on Kosovo listed in the Answer I gave to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, on 17 March (Official Report, col. WA189-90), the European Union agreed on 19 March a series of measures to put pressure on Belgrade to engage in genuine dialogue on Kosovo's status. These comprised an arms embargo, a refusal to supply equipment that might be used for internal repression or terrorism, a moratorium on export credit and a ban on visas for Serbian officials identified as having clear security responsibilities in Kosovo.

The European Union favours granting a large degree of autonomy to Kosovo within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia but will support any settlement on Kosovo's status reached by mutual agreement.

Remploy: Annual Performance Agreement

Baroness Pitkeathley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What targets Remploy has been set in its 1998-99 Annual Performance Agreement.[HL1295]

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The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment and Equal Opportunities has, on behalf of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, written to the Chairman of Remploy approving the 1998-99 Annual Performance Agreement between the department and the Company. This agreement covers the year from 1 April 1998. It has been negotiated by the Chief Executive of the Employment Service on behalf of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. The targets are:

    the average number of disabled people employed by Remploy Ltd. will be at least 10,050;

    the average number of disabled people employed under the Interwork scheme will be at least 3,350;

    at least 250 disabled employees will move from Remploy factories to Interwork, having been employed there for at least one year, or from Interwork or factories to open employment;

    Remploy Ltd. will keep within a total unit cost target (operating deficit per disabled worker) of £9,700;

    the unit cost of Interwork should be no more than £4,300;

    Remploy limited will keep within an operating deficit of £99 million (including reorganisation costs).

I have arranged for the text of the Annual Performance Agreement to be placed in the Library.

University for Industry

Baroness Lockwood asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for the development of the University for Industry.[HL1296]

Baroness Blackstone: I have placed in the Library and Printed Paper Office copies of the University for Industry Pathfinder Prospectus, which is published today.

The University for Industry is at the heart of the Government's vision for lifelong learning as set out in our Green Paper, The Learning Age. It will lead the revolution in learning and achievement which this country needs.

The Pathfinder Prospectus describes what the University for Industry will do, how it will operate and how it will develop for launch by the year 2000. It invites organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors to consider how the University for Industry could support their learning strategies, and how they might contribute to its development and implementation.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has appointed today a Chairman, Lord Sainsbury, to take forward the further development of the University for Industry until permanent structures are in place. We

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have advertised today in the national press the permanent post of University for Industry Chief Executive.

Local Early Years Development Plans

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether failure to agree to limits being placed on its fees will mean that a private or voluntary provider of pre-school education will be excluded from local authority early years development plans; and, if so, what effect they envisage such a failure will have on the school's registration for the care and education of 3 and 4 year-olds.[HL1184]

Baroness Blackstone: All private and voluntary sector providers which meet the quality criteria and agree with their Partnership to offer a number of free core education places can be part of their local early years development plan.

Nursery Schools: Teacher Provision

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the distinctions between maintained and private and voluntary (non-maintained) nursery schools that justify a minimum teacher:pupil ratio in maintained school reception classes for 4 year-olds that is 2.5 times lower in non-maintained schools.[HL1185]

Baroness Blackstone: Her Majesty's Government recognise that early years provision in maintained schools, independent schools and the private and voluntary sectors is regulated in different ways, even though the service provided for children may be similar. The Government believe a more uniform system of regulation would be appropriate, while preserving the necessary safeguards for young children, and issued a consultation paper on 27 March to seek views.

Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 16 March (WA 104), what funds or assistance the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland received from the Government; and what is the contribution from each police authority, joint police board, police board or committee and each individual constituent member.[HL1112]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): In 1997-98 £141,000 was made available to the Association of Chief Police

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Officers in Scotland by the Scottish Office Home Department in respect of staff salaries and administrative costs.

This included the contributions made by each police authority and joint police board as follows:

Central Scotland Joint Police Board3,262
Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary1,985
Fife Constabulary4,009
Grampian Joint Police Board5,889
Lothian and Borders Joint Police Board12,816
Northern Constabulary3,518
Strathclyde Joint Police Board33,588
Tayside Joint Police Board5,433

The membership subscription for the Association is £125 per annum.

Racial Equality in the Armed Forces

Lord McCarthy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measures they are taking to promote greater racial equality in the Armed Forces following the decision of the Commission for Racial Equality to abandon legal action against the Household Cavalry.[HL1318]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The decision by the Commission for Racial Equality on 25 March 1998 to abandon altogether the question of legal action against the Household Cavalry was most welcome. It reflects, quite rightly, the considerable efforts which have been made over the last two years, across all three Armed Services and including the Household Cavalry, following general criticisms of the implementation of our racial equality policies. The achievement of this progress has required considerable determination, which Sir Herman Ouseley, the CRE's Chairman, has described as a "model of leadership in action". We are delighted with the excellent progress which has now enabled the Commission to recognise the Armed Forces' willingness to make real, permanent progress; I congratulate the Services upon what has been achieved.

It is essential that the commitment to change is maintained. For this reason we have agreed a five-year "partnership agreement" with the Commission and I am placing a copy in the Library of the House. The agreement is comprehensive and reflects the considerable challenges which lie ahead for the Armed Forces as they seek to put in place and develop, through the strong leadership now being demonstrated, robust racial equality policies. The agreement, which includes meeting challenging ethnic minority recruitment targets, and developing monitoring and evaluation of personnel policies, will require rigorous application. We will be looking to build upon the constructive co-operation we have with the CRE. We know that the Services are

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determined to address the partnership agreement with vigour and we shall be fully supportive of their efforts.

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