§ Mr. Alan Simpson
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many contracts for employment action zones have been awarded to bids led by the public and voluntary sectors. 
§ Ms Jowell
[holding answer 20 January 2000]: We have not yet awarded any contracts to run Employment Zones from April 2000. We have, however, identified preferred bidders in 11 areas. Of these, seven will be led by a public sector/private sector consortium. The other four will be private sector led and we were encouraged that in each case the private sector organisation concerned is working in partnership with other public and/or voluntary organisations.