§ Mr. Bercow
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the mandate of the Advisory Committee on incentives in the field of employment is; how many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the UK representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if he will list the items currently under its consideration; if he will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Malcolm Wicks
The Committee on Community incentive measures in the field of employment is provided for by a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council, which the Council adopted on 6 May 2002, Article 129 of the Amsterdam Treaty. It runs until 31 December 2006.
The programme of employment incentive measures will cover analysis, research and co-operation among the member states to support the European Employment Strategy and help achieve the strategic goals set by the Lisbon European Council. Activities, particularly through pilot projects, will include: the forward-looking evaluation of the Strategy; promoting the exchange of experience and good practice; and increasing information and general 543W awareness of the social partners and relevant local and regional authorities. It also involves raising awareness of the Employment Strategy among European citizens
The work programme for the committee, which will approved at the first meeting on 30 May, will include deciding and managing with the Commission the: general guidelines for the implementation of the activities; breakdown of funding between the activities; proposals for selection criteria for financial support; criteria for assessing activities receiving such support; and the procedure for disseminating and transferring the results. The committee will have an advisory role on the other aspects of the standard comitology decision.
The committee is likely to meet two to three times a year and will be attended by one UK official. The annual cost to public funds of UK attendance is likely to be up to £1,650 of which the Commission will reimburse up to £1,230.
Together with member states, the Commission is currently conducting a review to bring existing legislation on the conduct of comitology committees into line with Council Decision 1999/468/EC, to "simplify the requirements for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission".
As an obligation to this Decision, the Commission undertook to publish an annual report on the working of committees. The first report was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses on 26 February (Commission Document 5685/02).
As part of the review process, the UK Government have encouraged the Commission to produce and maintain an electronic database of every comitology committee, its agendas and recent actions, to be accessible through its website.
§ Mr. Bercow
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the mandate of the Committee of the European Social Fund is; how many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the UK representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if he will list the items currently under its consideration; if he will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Malcolm Wicks
The legal base of the European Social Fund (ESF) Committee is Article 147 of the treaty establishing the European Community. The committee's role is to assist the European Commission in administering the ESF. It delivers opinions on draft Commission proposals relating to the ESF including programming documents and implementing rules. It has met four times over the last 12 months.
The committee is chaired by the Commission and is composed of representatives of member state Governments, trade unions and employers' organisations. The UK has six full members: two officials from the ESF Division of the Joint International Unit of the Department for Work and Pensions and Department for Education and Skills; two representatives from the Trades Union Congress (TUC); and two representatives from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). There are also three alternate members from the UK who are entitled to attend in the absence of a full member from their 544W respective category: an official from the UK Permanent Representation to the EU and representatives from the TUC and CBI. The costs to public funds for the Government full members are limited to expenses of approximately £550 per person for a one day-meeting, less reimbursement provided by the Commission.
At its last meeting on 22 March 2002, the committee considered the evaluation of the ESF, local employment initiatives, gender mainstreaming, preparation of national action plans for employment, complementarity with the Leonardo Da Vinci vocational training programme and lifelong learning.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has responsibility for ESF policy within the UK and is accountable to Parliament for the work of the UK Government members on the ESF committee. The Department for Work and Pensions prepares explanatory memoranda on EU documents on the ESF committee that are deposited in Parliament for scrutiny. These arrangements will continue.