Mr. John D. Taylor
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps are being taken to offer employees of the Property Services Agency in Northern Ireland redundancy in anticipation of the privatisation of the Property Services Agency; whether the Property Services Agency in Northern Ireland will remain a separate entity after privatisation: and what steps he is taking to enable employees to make a considered decision upon the option of redundancy prior to the availability of details of the privatisation proposals.
§ Mr. Yeo
[holding answer 18 February 1992]: PSAs work in Northern Ireland is handled by the PSA building management (BM) business. Ministers will review BM's progress towards privatisation later this year. It is therefore premature to speculate on the form which privatisation might take, and whether Northern Ireland should remain a separate entity.
In order to reduce manpower levels and thereby enable the PSAs businesses to compete more effectively, a voluntary early retirement/severance (VER) scheme, open to all non-industrial staff was launched throughout PSAs in late 1990. The benefits paid to those accepted for VER are the same as those which would be provided on compulsory redundancy. Officers who are uncertain whether to apply can request an estimate of their financial entitlements before making up their minds. Decisions on whether to offer VER, are taken in the light of business operational needs.
§ Sir Dudley Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many meetings or other discussions his officials have had with local government officers in Warwickshire about the county's standard spending assessment in 1991 and 1992; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Portillo
Warwickshire have had the opportunity —in common with all other authorities—to make written representations on our settlement proposals and to request meetings with Ministers. Officials have not met officers from Warwickshire to discuss the authority's SSA although regular meetings are held with the local authority associations to discuss general SSA issues. Warwickshire did, however, meet me and officials in the context of community charge limitation for 1991–92 and my hon. Friends representing Warwickshire constituencies have frequently taken the opportunity to discuss the methodology underlying standard spending assessments with Ministers in this Department.