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Volume 696: debated on Monday 12 November 2007

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Anne McGuire) has made the following Statement.

We have today received Remploy's final modernisation proposals. Good progress was made during the consultation period under the chairmanship of Roger Poole, and although the negotiations concluded with a formal failure to agree, we feel there has been real dialogue between the company and its trade unions, and progress on both sides. We also expect to receive further representations from the trade unions representing the Remploy workers.

The talks identified some important common ground, in particular:

agreement on the overall funding envelope of £555 million over five years;

the need both for employment services and factory provision;

fewer factory closures;

the importance of gaining more public sector contracts;

the importance of local initiatives in securing the future of Remploy factories by winning more public and private contracts, led by factory managers, trade unions, constituency MPs and other local stakeholders;

the need to reduce management and other overhead costs;

the need to improve working practices, saving £10 million over five years; and

the need dramatically to improve industrial relations.

Ministers have committed that Remploy's revised proposals will receive full ministerial scrutiny before any final decision. We will therefore study them in detail before making a further Statement to the House in due course.