§ Mr. Rendel
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the reasons for the low number of initial interviews carried out under the New Deal for lone parents compared with the number of initial interviews requested. 
§ Angela Eagle
The number of initial interviews carried out under the New Deal for Lone Parents is in line with expectations. Up to 23 October 1998, over 30,000 interviews had been booked and over 23,000 already carried out.
The initial contact letter sent to lone parents under the New Deal for Lone Parents is not a request for them to attend an interview1. Participation is voluntary and lone parents may choose to get in touch with a New Deal Personal Adviser when its suits their circumstances.
The report of the independent evaluation of the New Deal for Lone Parents, to be published next year, will include an examination of the reasons why some lone parents choose not to get in touch with a Personal Adviser when they receive an initial contact letter.1 Two of the eight prototype areas did experiment by sending out letters with a stated interview time and date; however, lone parents were advised that the programme was voluntary.