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Mr. Straw : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the total number of surplus school places available for removal represented by decisions made by him or pending in respect of proposals for the closure or reorganisation of schools for each year from 1986-87 to the latest available year.
Mr. MacGregor : The information in respect of proposals on which my or my predecessors' decision to approve has been made, or which local education authorities have, in the absence of local objections, determined to implement themselves, is given in the following table ; figures in respect of proposals on which a decision is still pending are not available. The figures are in respect of the calendar years in which the decisions were made.
Calendar year |Number |of places ------------------------------------------ 1986 |62,828 1987 |45,326 1988 |27,170 1989 |41,831
Mr. Jackson : I have received a copy of the report that was made to the Universities Funding Council, the successor body to the University Grants Committee that commissioned it. I shall respond to the report when I have completed my consultations with other Government Departments and organisations to which some of its recommendations relate.
Mr. Loyden : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what recent representations he has received from parents objecting to their children using computers as part of their school lessons.
Mrs. Rumbold : My right hon. Friend and I have received a number of representations from parents who are members of the Brethren. They object to their children using some applications of information technology such as computers, and are seeking the right to withdraw their children from the IT aspects of the national curriculum. The Government's view is that IT education is a vital part of preparing pupils for adult life and employment, and should therefore be a requirement rather than an option under the national curriculum in maintained schools. It
Column 598remains open to parents with objections to aspects of the national curriculum to make alternative educational arrangements.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what advice he has issued to local education authorities concerning the admission to schools of pupils wearing dress reflecting religious belief ; and if he will make a statement ; (2) what information he has on the policy of city technology colleges concerning the admission of children wearing dress reflecting religious belief ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Rumbold : Uniform and dress rules are matters for determination by individual local education authorities and schools, including city technology colleges. We look to LEAs and governing bodies, in devising these rules, to take account of the cultural and religious backgrounds of pupils. The Commission for Racial Equality has recently issued a code of practice for the elimination of racial discrimination in education, which my right hon. Friend has commended to school and college governing bodies. It includes guidance on dress and uniform.
Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many complaints he has received in each of the years 1985 to 1989 that a local education authority was in breach of its duty to identify and assess a child with special educational needs, as laid down in sections 4 and 5 of the Education Act 1981 ; on how many of these occasions he has used his default powers under sections 68 and 99 of the Education Act 1944 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what has been the outcome of his consultations on the introduction of differential fees in higher education ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. MacGregor : The Department's consultation paper, "Shifting the Balance of Public Funding of Higher Education to Fees", issued on 25 April last year, proposed a two-stage plan for increasing the responsiveness of higher education institutions to student demand. In the light of responses, we confirmed last July the first stage increase in the maximum fee for full -time undergraduate students met through the award arrangements from £607 to £1,675 for the academic year 1990-91.
The consultation paper set a later deadline for responses to the second stage proposal for differential fees. Such fees would apply the market force of student demand more evenly across courses of different costs. Again, the overwhelming majority of the responses supported this proposal. A significant number of those consulted stressed the advantages of setting three fee levels, broadly on the same basis as those set for fees for overseas students, rather than the four proposed.
The Government have accordingly decided to introduce differential full-time undergraduate maximum
Column 599tuition fees to be met through mandatory student awards for most first degree and designated comparable courses in publicly funded institutions from the academic year 1991-92 onwards. At 1990-91 prices, these fees will be set for three band levels as follows :
Band |£ ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 |Classroom-based courses |1,675 2 |Laboratory/workshop-based courses|2,500 3 |Clinical courses |4,500
We shall now consult the funding bodies and representatives of universities, polytechnics and colleges about the detailed arrangements for allocating courses to bands and the consequent adjustment between institutional grant and fees provision within the agreed expenditure plans in respect of the student numbers to which they relate.
Mrs. Chalker : We already have a know-how fund for Poland of £50 million, and a similar fund for Hungary of £25 million will come into operation from April. We have announced that we shall extend these funds to cover other east European countries once they are fully committed to reform.
Sir Geoffrey Howe : I understand that, following two recent incidents, security staff have been instructed to ensure that the roadways through the inner courtyards are not blocked by vehicles making deliveries and that no unauthorised parking takes place.
Mr. Kaufman : To ask the Lord President of the Council whether he will make inquiries as to why copies of the Manchester Evening News are no longer regularly available in the Tea Room and Smoking Room.
Sir Geoffrey Howe : Until recently six copies of the Manchester Evening News were suplied free of charge and delivered by hand to the House by the publisher. Under new arrangements introduced by the publisher, three copies are now posted to the House.
The authorities of the House have discussed these new arrangements with the publisher, who has agreed to re-provide six copies and to see what can be done about speeding up delivery arrangements. Meanwhile, copies of the Manchester Evening News will be placed in the Tea and Smoking Rooms as soon as they are received.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he proposes any investigation into the role of Spicer and Pegler, now Spicer and Oppenheim, in the Barlow Clowes affair.
Mr. Redwood : No. The terms of reference of the Companies Act 1985 inspectors investigating the affairs of Barlow Clowes Gilt Managers Limited and the affairs of James Ferguson Holdings plc enable them to inquire into the role of Spicer and Oppenheim if they consider it necessary for the purpose of their investigations.
Sir Richard Body : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether Her Majesty's Government support the view of the EEC Commission, in the current General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade negotiations, that there can be no negotiations on the United States proposal for ending agricultural dumping within five years ; what assessment he has made of the impact of this view on the prospects for a successful outcome of the negotiations ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Redwood : The proposals tabled by the United States on agriculture in the current Uruguay round of multilateral trade negotiations, including that to eliminate export subsidies within five years, would cause a number of difficulties for the European Community. However, these proposals, like the others which have been tabled, including those by the Community, will be the subject of further negotiation. The Government are urging the Community to respond positively to proposals for more open trade in all areas and are keen to see a good liberal settlement for the Uruguay round as a whole. I am hopeful that a settlement can be reached in the agriculture negotiations which satisfies all parties, as this is likely to be an important element for the successful conclusion of the Uruguay round, and one to which the United Kingdom attaches great importance.
Mr. Nigel Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he has any plans to introduce legislation to provide exemption from penalty under the Official Secrets Act for any scientist who speaks openly on matters affecting public safety.
Sir Trevor Skeet : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will give the end uses of methanol for the most recent year for which figures are available and the number of United Kingdom manufacturers.
The main use for methanol is as a feedstock for the production of a wide range of other chemicals.
The majority of methanol consumed in the United Kingdom is used in the production of formaldehyde (a
Column 601component of melamine resin), methyl tert butyl ether (an octane enhancer for unleaded fuel), acetic acid, chloromethanes, methyl methacrylate (a resin), and methylamines (solvents and photographic developers).
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list what current inquiries his Department are carrying out into suspected insider dealing rings in the City of London ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Redwood [holding answer 19 January 1990] : Investigations into possible insider dealing offences are not normally announced. However, an announcement may be made in a particular case if it is considered to be in the public interest to do so. There are at present 18 cases where inspectors have been appointed by my Department to investigate possible insider dealing offences. In only one of those cases was the appointment announced. That investigation concerns possible offences with respect to the securities of Consolidated Gold Fields plc in the period from 3 August 1988 to 20 September 1988.
Mr. Fraser : To ask the Attorney-General how many people used the legal advice and assistance green form scheme analysed by numbers of bills paid to the Legal Aid Board during the years commencing 1 April 1987 and 1 April 1988 ; and whether legal aid is reaching more people than ever before.
The Attorney-General : The Legal Aid Board did not take over the administration of the legal aid schemes until 1 April 1989. The figures requested for 1987-88 are available in appendix 1A of the Law Society's legal aid annual report for 1987-88. In 1987-88, 1,077,454 bills were paid and the figure for 1988-89 was 994,606.
The number of full civil legal aid certificates issued compared with figures for five and 10 years ago indicates that more people than ever before are taking up legal aid. The figures are as follows :
|Number --------------------------------- 1979-80 |190,677 1984-85 |221,209 1989-90 |<1>259,000 <1> Estimated.
Over the same period, expenditure on legal aid as a whole increased some fivefold.
Ms. Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people have been refused social fund loan applications by social fund offices in each of the ILOs of Redcar, Eston, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Hartlepool, on the grounds that the applicants could not afford to repay such loans.
Column 602officers may refuse an application for one or more reasons and each reason given is recorded. The information in the table gives the number of occasions between 1 April 1989 and 1 December 1989 when "inability to repay" was recorded as a (but not necessarily the only) reason for refusal :
Social Security local office |Number of |refusals --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Redcar |61 Eston |8 Middlesbrough |131 Stockton |108 Hartlepool |74
Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what considerations were taken into account by the international contact group of nations on the question of the exclusion of Walvis bay from incorporation into the independent state of Namibia.
Mr. Sainsbury : In view of the apparently irreconcilable views of the parties concerned on the status of Walvis bay, the five Governments in the contact group decided not to include any provision on this question in their proposal for achieving Namibian independence.
Mr. Sainsbury : We are pleased with recent moves towards democracy in Bulgaria, including the decision to restore their rights to the minorities in that country. We hope to have closer and more fruitful relations in future.
Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many representations he has received concerning Government plans to allow Hong Kong's ivory stockpiles to be exempted from the agreed worldwide ban on ivory trading ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sainsbury : We have received a number of representations, both in favour of and against the entering of a reservation on behalf of Hong Kong. We took all these into consideration. We received no formal representations from other countries.
Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last made representations to the Japanese Government concerning its research whaling agreements ; what representations he has made to them about a total ban on whaling ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 603Japanese scientific research whaling programme with Foreign Minister Nakayama on 12 January, as did my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister with Prime Minister Kaifu. The Japanese Government are well aware of our views on whaling.
Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions his Department has had with the chemical industry regarding the implementation of a chemical weapon convention.
Mr. Sainsbury : Officials of this Department and other Government Departments concerned meet regularly with representatives of the United Kingdom chemical industry to discuss issues involved in the chemical weapons convention under negotiation in Geneva.
Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether any groups or individuals that are independent of the chemical industry will be invited to assist with the work of the national authority, established under the chemical weapon convention.
Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the oversight of the implementation of the verification procedures under the terms of a chemical weapon convention will involve any personnel or organisations that are independent of the chemical industry.
Mr. Sainsbury : It is currently envisaged in the negotiations in Geneva for a chemical weapons convention that the implementation of verification procedures will be carried out by an international technical secretariat established by the convention.
Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the Government's policy on the renunciation of the present reservation to retaliate in kind if subjected to chemical weapon attack, under the terms of the Geneva protocol 1925 (a) before a chemical weapon convention is signed, (b) upon the signing of a chemical weapon convention and (c) at some stage during the implementation of a chemical weapon convention.
Mr. Sainsbury : The United Kingdom, in common with a number of other states parties to the 1925 Geneva protocol, entered a reservation in the interests of national security, permitting retaliation in kind if subjected to attack with chemical weapons. This remains the United Kingdom's position.
On the second and third parts of this question, I refer the hon. Member for Western Isles to the answer given to his earlier question on 11 December last year.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) when Mr. Muhammad Jamshed, who has re-applied to the United Kingdom post in Islamabad to join his wife in the United Kingdom (Ref :
Column 604IMM/80967), is to be interviewed ; and why Mr. Jamshed, at the interview relating to his first application, was interviewed in Pahari ;
(2) when Ruksana Riaz (serial number : 66429), who applied to the United Kingdom post in Islamabad to join her family in the United Kingdom on 5 July 1989, is going to be interviewed.
Mr. Sainsbury : In accordance with the guidelines on the handling of representations by Members of Parliament in immigration cases, issued to Members on 14 December 1988, I have referred the questions to the correspondence unit of the migration and visa department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The hon. Member will receive replies from the unit as soon as possible.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information the Department has concerning the policy of (a) India, (b) Pakistan, (c) Israel, (d) Argentina, (e) Brazil and (f) Libya towards (i) the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and (ii) the 1968 nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Mr. Sainsbury : Of the countries listed in the hon. Member's question, Libya is a party to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), and its nuclear facilities are under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. The other countries are not parties to the treaty. All of them have nuclear installations, some of which are under IAEA safeguards while others are not.
Mr. Benn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information his Department has concerning the policy of (a) France and (b) the People's Republic of China towards the nuclear non-proliferation treaty ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the number of allowances and the total amount paid by the Government for boarding school fees in both the United Kingdom and overseas for the education of the children of (a) members of his Department, (b) members of the Diplomatic Services communication division and (c) the Overseas Development Administration including children of technical co-operation officers for the latest year for which figures are available.
Mr. Sainsbury [holding answer 19 January 1990] : An allowance towards the cost of their children's day school education at boarding schools in the United Kingdom is paid to very few members of the diplomatic services during home postings. Details of the amounts paid are subsumed in the overall figures for boarding school allowances. Separate statistics are not kept.
Only limited information is kept by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on schools used overseas. Each mission maintains its own list of authorised schools.
A total of £1,784,000 was paid in overseas education allowances for children of diplomatic services officers
Column 605(including £79,000 for the communications division) and £286,000 to employees of the Overseas Development Agency (including technical co-operation officers) in the financial year 1988-89. Details of the total number of children for whom such allowances were paid are not available.
Mr. Caborn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether any representations have been received on behalf of Sibusiso Senele Masuku and Oupa Josias Mbonane currently under sentence of death in South Africa for their alleged involvement in offences arising out of political protest ; and what action he has taken about these cases.
Mr. Maude [ pursuant to his reply, 16 January 1990, c. 165-67 ] : We have in fact received a number of representations about Mr. Sibusiso Senele Masuku and Oupa Josias Mbonane. We consider intervening, exceptionally, in such cases only when all legal avenues of appeal have been exhausted. Our criteria are that the case must be clearly political and there must be strong extenuating circumstances or grounds to doubt the fairness of the judicial process. We are not prepared to make appeals in cases involving indiscriminate terrorism. With legal avenues yet to be exhausted, we have not intervened with the South African Government in these cases.
Mr. Grist : The Government's proposals for the further improvement of the National Health Service in Wales are set out in the White Paper "Working for Patients" (Cm. 555) and in my right hon. Friend's published letter of 1 August 1989 to health authority and family practitioner committee chairmen. Insofar as the proposals require legislation, provision is included in the National Health Service and Community Care Bill which is presently before the House.
Mr. Grist : Information on number of prescriptions by type of drug is readily available only by therapeutic class. Hypnotic drugs are a class on their own, but psychotropic drugs are included in classes comprising sedatives, tranquillisers and anti-depressants.
Number of prescriptions (Thousands) |Hypnotics |Sedatives/ |tranquillisers/ |anti-depressants -------------------------------------------------------------------- 1980 |1,149 |1,925 1981 |1,138 |1,931 1982 |1,129 |1,885 1983 |1,103 |1,692 1984 |1,137 |1,598 1985 |1,104 |1,514 1986 |1,216 |1,493 1987 |1,211 |1,513 1988 |1,139 |1,383
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) how he intends to implement those recommendations in the Welsh Language Board's strategy document, "The Welsh Language.--A Strategy for the Future," directly relating to the responsibilities of his Department ;
(2) what formal response he has made to the strategy document prepared by the Welsh Language Board and entitled "The Welsh Language--A Strategy for the Future" and its proposals for recommendations.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) how his Department proposes to implement the recommendations and policy contained in the Welsh Language Board's document, "A Bilingual Policy--Guidelines for the Public Sector ;"
(2) if he will arrange to review the Welsh language policy of each body of which the Welsh Office is the sponsor Department ; (3) if he will issue guidance to local authorities in Wales based on the Welsh Language Board's document entitled, "A Bilingual Policy--Guidelines for the Public Sector."
Mr. Wyn Roberts : The Welsh Language Board has already invited every public body in Wales to review its Welsh language policy having regard to the board's voluntary guidelines. The Welsh Office is among those currently considering its response. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will consider whether there is need for further guidelines in the light of the overall response.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what criteria he will use in considering applications from schools to be excluded from the Welsh language teaching requirements of the national curriculum.
Mr. Wyn Roberts : The Secretary of State has been considering this issue in the light of the responses to his consultation on proposals for Welsh in the national curriculum. As a result of that consultation the Secretary of State is publishing today a draft order in accordance with section 21(3) of the Education Reform Act, prescribing attainment targets and programmes of study for Welsh, together with an explanatory statement and an account of the consultation. Copies have been placed in the Library. Consultation on the draft order ends on 28 February and the Secretary of State intends to make a final order in April.
The draft order and its associated document set out attainment targets and programmes of study which are designed to be achievable in schools of different kinds throughout Wales. Nevertheless there may be circumstances where a school may need to be exempted at least
Column 607temporarily. The Secretary of State has powers to make regulations under section 17 of the Act to prescribe exceptions from the national curriculum. He will be consulting soon on proposals for such regulations.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list all suggestions he has received from the Welsh Language Board regarding statutory and administrative changes designed to enhance the use and status of the Welsh language, together with his response.
Mr. Wyn Roberts : The Welsh Language Board's main proposals are those contained in its strategy document, its voluntary guidelines for the public and private sectors, and its draft Welsh Language Bill. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is considering the practical implications of the board's proposals before he responds. In addition, there has been considerable progress on a range of other matters concerning legislation and administrative practice which have been raised by the board.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many circulars and circular letters have been issued by his Department's education division since 1 January 1989 ; and how many were (a) in Welsh and (b) bilingual.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) if he has invited the national language unit to undertake any specific tasks with regard to the teaching of Welsh and French in the national curriculum in Wales ;
(2) if he will make a statement on the role of the national language unit in the implementation of the national curriculum in Wales ;
(3) when the national language unit was last subject to inspection by Her Majesty's inspectorate.
Mr. Wyn Roberts : The national language unit is one of the agencies involved in preparing Welsh language materials for the national curriculum. Grants have been given to enable the unit to employ development officers for Welsh and modern foreign languages including French. The language unit has not been the subject of a report by Her Majesty's inspectorate.