§ Mr. Robert McCartney
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of the change in the number of people annually who will(a) not get action for community employment in North Down and (b) not obtain alternative employment as a result of proposed budget reductions. 
§ Mr. Ancram
Responsibility for the subject in question has been delegated to the Training and Employment Agency under its chief executive, Mr. Ian Walters. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from Ian Walters to Mr. Robert McCartney, dated 5 February 1996:
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has asked me as Chief Executive of the Training and Employment Agency to reply to your questions about the Action for Community Employment (ACE) programme.
- (a) The Agency estimates that in North Down there will be 74 fewer places available for ACE workers in 1996/97 than were available in 1995/96;
- (b) This is impossible to judge precisely. However, the performance of the Northern Ireland economy provides good ause for optimism. Unemployment is at its lowest level for 14 years and employment at record levels. Job vacancies being notified by employers to the Training and Employment Agency's local offices are at record levels—currently standing at 7,500. The opportunities for jobseekers to find work are better now than they have been for some considerable time.
I hope that you find this reply useful. I will of course be pleased to provide further information if you would find it helpful.