§ Mr. Maclean
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many under-25s have been placed with the environment taskforce since its inception; what work the taskforce has carried out; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Andrew Smith
Responsibility for the subject of these questions has been delegated to the Employment Service agency under its Chief Executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from Richard Foster to Mr. David Maclean, dated 15 March 1999:491WAs the Employment Service is an Executive Agency, the Secretary of State for Education and Employment has asked Leigh Lewis to reply to your question about the number of young people who have participated in the Environment Task Force option of New Deal for 18–24 year olds and what type of work is carried out on it. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to Mr. Lewis as Chief Executive of the Agency. I am replying in his absence.Up to the end of January, 8,910 young people had started on the Environment Task Force option of the New Deal for 18–24 year olds. This figure is drawn from the latest Government Statistical Service figures to the end of December 1998 and provisional Management Information to the end of January 1999.Turning to the type of work carried out, there is a wide range of projects which contribute to conserving energy and water and protecting the environment. We have also been keen to offer opportunities that encourage young people to become involved in local community regeneration. Projects have included dealing with housing, forest and park management, and reclamation of derelict or waste land. All projects are assessed against environmental objectives set by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. The key criterion, however, is the extent to which they will develop participants' skills, help them into jobs at the end of their time on the option and increase their long term employability.I hope this is helpful.