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Prosecutions

Mrs. Anne Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many prosecutions were instigated by his Department in the financial years 1990-91, 1991-92 and 1992-93 by nature of offence, the number of convictions, the number of custodial sentences and the financial penalties levied.

Mr. Hague [pursuant to his reply, 22 March 1994, columns 167-68] : The totals shown in the table should read as follows :


Year    |Number       

----------------------

1990-91 |8,336        

1991-92 |4,618        

1992-93 |5,902        

Child Support Agency

Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what were (a) the start-up costs, (b) the running costs and (c) the moneys recovered from absent parents in the first year of the Child Support Agency ; and what was the target sum for (c) .

Mr. Scott : The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for Ros Hepplewhite, the chief executive. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Ros Hepplewhite to Mr. Frank Field, dated 28 March 1994 :

I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the costs of the Child Support Agency and the money recovered by the Agency.

The total cost of setting up the Agency was around £146 million. This figure includes the 1992-93 cost of liable relative work, transferred in April 1992 from the Benefits Agency to the Child Support Unit, as the shadow Agency was known before its launch in April 1993. The running costs for the Agency in 1993-94 are estimated at £97.8 million.

The Agency was set a target to recover £530 million in benefit savings in the financial year 1993-94. To 31 January 1994, £250 million had been recorded as recovered. This does not represent the total amount of savings during the period as some will be scored restrospectively.

I hope this is helpful.

Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the operation of the Child Support Agency.

Mr. Lilley : The Child Support Agency was introduced to ensure that parents meet their responsibility for the financial maintenance of their children where they can afford to do so. It replaced an inconsistent, often unreliable system which resulted in a drastic decline in maintenance payments over the past decade.


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There is already the right of appeal to an independent tribunal against a decision of a child support officer on the basis of an incorrect application of the formula.

DEFENCE

RAF Personnel Management Centre

Mr. Nigel Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 10 March, Official Report, column 394, what was the cost of refurbishment to the personal residence of the air officer commanding the RAF personnel management centre, Innsworth.

Mr. Hanley : The current air officer commanding the personnel management centre at RAF Innsworth vacated his official residence, Haymes Garth, in May 1992. That was to allow it to be refurbished for the air officer commander in chief of the new RAF personnel and training command. Since May 1992, the existing air officer commanding has been living in his own private residence. The value of the work being carried out at Haymes Garth is estimated at around £260,000 and includes substantial expenditure on repairs to the roof, on rewiring and re-plumbing.

Public Appointments

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of public appointments made by his Department in 1993 were of (a) Asians and (b) black people ; and if he will list their names.

Mr. Hanley : No Asians or black people were appointed to MOD non- departmental public bodies during 1993.

David Hart

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role and status David Hart has in his Department ; what are his terms and conditions of employment ; and when he was appointed.

Mr. Hanley Mr. Hart is not an employee of the Ministry of Defence. He is one of a number of people who provide unpaid advice to my right hon. and learned Friend from time to time. He has carried out this role since July 1993.

Ministerial Visits

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 16 March, Official Report, column 752, if he will now give the same information for south Yorkshire ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hanley : I did not visit south Yorkshire on that date.

Low Flying

Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what studies have been carried out on the possible cumulative effect of low flying sorties on the hearing of young infants ; and if he will make a statement on their findings.

Mr. Hanley : My Department has not carried out specific research into the cumulative effect of low flying


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sorties on the hearing of young infants. In 1990, however, we commissioned a study to review the available information on any possible relationship between aircraft noise and hearing loss. The review included consideration of research reports of possible hearing loss in children due to aircraft noise. A copy of the report was placed in the Library of the House--university of Southampton institute of sound and vibration research, "Risk to Hearing from Overflight Noise of Military Aircraft".

Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many low flying sorties have been conducted over mainland Britain for every year since 1979 (a) above 250 ft, (b) between 100 and 250 ft and (c) below 100 ft.

Mr. Hanley : The total numbers of sorties booked in the United Kingdom low flying system--UKLFS--for each year since 1979 are as follows :


Year       |Number               

---------------------------------

1979       |<1>108,860           

1980       |<1>122,851           

1981       |<1>131,841           

1982       |<1>130,313           

1983       |<1>127,683           

1984       |133,519              

1985       |141,762              

1986       |151,164              

1987       |147,661              

1988       |151,291              

1989       |144,323              

1990       |141,390              

1991       |127,400              

1992       |131,464              

1993       |119,410              

<1> Before 1984 sorties were not 

recorded, but have been          

estimated from the number of     

movements into individual low    

flying areas.                    

Central records are not maintained of the heights at which low flying sorties are flown. Information is, however, available on operational low flying--OLF--which is flying by fixed-wing military aircraft below 250 ft and down to 100 ft and which may only take place in three tactical training areas--TTAs--in central Wales, northern Scotland and the borders. Details of OLF sorties are not available, but the total numbers of movements authorised into the TTAs in each year since 1979 are as follows :


Year   |Number       

---------------------

1979   |787          

1980   |797          

1981   |660          

1982   |240          

1983   |1,922        

1984   |1,007        

1985   |476          

1986   |1,200        

1987   |1,386        

1988   |2,115        

1989   |2,694        

1990   |6,027        

1991   |1,814        

1992   |3,220        

1993   |3,049        

The figures from 1988 onwards reflect the division of the borders TTA into east and west sectors. Movements for the two sectors were counted separately so that sorties which crossed the border between the two sectors


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generated additional movements ; this led to an overstatement of the amount of activity in comparison with earlier years. The division between the two sectors was removed in October 1993. Analysis of the figures which show OLF movements on the basis of treating the borders TTA as a single area give revised figures from 1991 onwards as follows :


Year   |Number       

---------------------

1991   |1,050        

1992   |2,026        

1993   |1,874        

Note: Revised        

figures for 1988-90  

are not available.   

OLF may be authorised down to a minimum level of 100 ft but records do not distinguish between movements flown below 250 ft and at 100 ft.

Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the total number and type of low flying exercises that have been conducted over Britain since 1979 ; if he will account for each significant change since 1990 ; and if he will describe future plans during 1994.

Mr. Hanley : Central records of all low flying exercises in the United Kingdom are not held. There have been no significant changes in the broad pattern of exercise activity in the United Kingdom since 1990, and none are anticipated during 1994.

Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been paid out in compensation to farmers in Wales for loss of livestock, abortion and loss of production caused by low flying aircraft during each year since 1990.

Mr. Hanley : Since 1990 the Ministry of Defence has paid out the following amounts in compensation to farmers in Wales to cover livestock- related losses caused by low flying military aircraft :


Year   |£            

---------------------

1990   |47,953       

1991   |59,159       

1992   |33,152       

1993   |29,999       

Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will define the geographical area included in the central Wales tactical training area.

Mr. Hanley : The Welsh tactical training area comprises the south- west portion of Montgomery, the north-west corner of Brecon and Radnor, the north-east corner of Carmarthen and north Pembroke. The area, which is designated low flying area 7T, is shown on the copy of the map of the day low flying system which is available in the Library of the House.

Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the total number of low flying sorties that have crossed the terrain of the Carmarthen constituency (1) on average per year from 1979 to 1991, (2) during 1992 and (3) during 1993.

Mr. Hanley : Although records are maintained of the total number of sorties flown in the United Kingdom low flying system, it is not possible to estimate the number of sorties flown over particular locations.


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Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many representations have been received by his Department against low flying aircraft during each year since 1979.

Mr. Hanley : The number of inquiries and complaints received by my Department about low flying in each year since 1979 are as allows :


Year   |Number       

---------------------

1979   |4,004        

1980   |3,365        

1981   |4,502        

1982   |3,304        

1983   |5,164        

1984   |5,609        

1985   |4,206        

1986   |5,304        

1987   |5,695        

1988   |5,763        

1989   |8,057        

1990   |7,130        

1991   |4,846        

1992   |6,295        

1993   |5,738        

Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what form of warning is given to farmers and residents of mid and west Wales prior to Royal Air Force test flights scheduled to fly in their area at altitudes below 250 ft ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hanley : All low flying below 250 ft and down to 100 ft in Wales by fixed wing military aircraft takes place in the Welsh tactical training area--TTA. Each month my noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence notifies hon. Members in the areas affected of the planned usage of the TTA.

Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the minimum height at which low flying takes place (a) in the central Wales tactical training area, (b) in the rest of Wales and (c) in the rest of Britain.

Mr. Hanley : Fixed-wing military aircraft, except light propeller- driven aircraft, are permitted to fly to a minimum height of 100 ft in the tactical training areas in central Wales, northern Scotland and the borders. Elsewhere in the United Kingdom low flying system the minimum height is 250 ft.

Light propeller-driven aircraft are permitted to fly to a minimum height of 50 ft. There is no minimum height restriction for helicopters.

Arms Sales

Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of his Department's officials are involved in the selling of British arms to other European NATO countries outside the Western European Union.

Mr. Aitken : Taking into account associate membership of the WEU, there are no European NATO countries outside the WEU.

Pregnant Personnel

Mr. Martlew : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the current employment policies when female personnel in the armed forces become pregnant.


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Mr. Hanley : Service women who become pregnant can choose either to take a period of up to 48 weeks maternity leave and return to duty, or if they prefer, to leave the armed forces. Those who choose to leave can apply to re-enter subsequently if they wish.

Child Care

Mr. Martlew : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence to what extent child care facilities are made available to personnel in the armed forces.

Mr. Hanley : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 21 January, Official Report, column 940.

Female Personnel

Mr. Martlew : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the percentage of female personnel in each of the armed forces.

Mr. Hanley : The information requested is as follows :


Service              |Percentage of Female                     

                     |Personnel                                

                     |(as at 1 January                         

                     |1994)                                    

---------------------------------------------------------------

Royal Navy           |7.6                                      

Army                 |5.7                                      

Royal Air Force      |8.5                                      

Porton Down

Mr. Livingstone : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 10 March, Official Report, columns 392-93, what were the cash outturns at 1992-93 prices for the chemical and biological establishment at Porton Down for each financial year between 1969 and 1979.

Mr. Hanley : This is a matter for the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment under its framework document. I have asked the Chief Executive of the CBDE to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Graham Pearson to Mr. Ken Livingstone, dated 29 March 1994 :

Parliamentary Question 3, Order Paper 24 March 1994

1. Your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Defence asking pursuant to the answer of 10 March, Official Report, columns 392-3 what were the cash outturns at 1992-93 prices for this Establishment for each financial year between 1969 and 1979 has been passed to me to reply as Chief Executive of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment.

2. The cash outturns for 1975-76 to 1978-79 at 1992-93 price levels are as follows :


Outturn at 1992-93 Price      

Levels                        

Year      |£ million          

------------------------------

1975-76   |18.7               

1976-77   |17.0               

1977-78   |15.8               

1978-79   |13.5               

I regret that the cash        

outturns for 1969-70 to       

1974-75 are not readily       

available.                    


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Air Cadets

Mr. Bill Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give details of the representations he has received about the future of the Air Cadets ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hanley : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) on 3 March, Official Report, column 871.

EDUCATION

Examination League Tables

16. Mr. Riddick : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what plans he has concerning the publication of examination league tables this year.

Mr. Robin Squire : My right hon. Friend is currently considering the responses to consultation on the content and format of the 1994 school and college performance tables. He intends to build on the considerable success of previous years' tables and is minded, as in 1993, to publish in November two sets of booklets, covering secondary schools and institutions catering for students aged 16 to 18. He has also proposed that the secondary school tables should, for the first time, include data on authorised absence as well as on unauthorised absence from school, and information on the length of the taught week.

Local Management of Schools

17. Mr. Tyler : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what representations he has received on the funding of teacher salary increases within local management of school budgets.

Mr. Forth : My right hon. Friend has received comments on the funding of teacher salary increases for 1994-95 from the teacher unions, local authority associations and others who were invited to comment on his proposals for implementing the recommendations of the school teachers' review body. A further 70 letters have been received from individual LEAs, head teachers and governors.

Discretionary Awards

18. Mr. Luff : To ask the Secretary of State for Education when the Gulbenkian Foundation survey of discretionary awards will be published.

Mr. Boswell : Although publication is not in the Government's hands, I understand that, in order to avoid publication at the beginning of the Easter break, the survey's steering committee has now decided to publish the report on 8 April.

Direct Grant Schools

19. Mrs. Jane Kennedy : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what applications for capital spending he has received from direct grant schools on Merseyside for the year up to 1 April ; and what allowance has been made by his Department to those schools during the same period.

Mr. Robin Squire : I assume that the hon. Member is referring to capital bids by self-governing--grant-maintained--schools for 1993-94. One such school on


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Merseyside received a named project allocation totalling £750,000. Emergency grants totalling £188,000 have also been made to schools on Merseyside in the same period.

Nursery Education

20. Ms Short : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what plans he has to expand nursery provision ; and if he will make a statement.

22. Mr. Gallie : To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will make a statement on the provision of private sector nursery education and its relationship to state nursery education provisions.

23. Mr. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what plans he has to extend nursery education to all four and five-year-olds whose parents want it.

Ms Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what recommendations he has for nursery education.

Mr. Robin Squire : Over 90 per cent. of three and four-year-olds already receive some form of pre-school provision, whether in maintained nursery and primary schools or in playgroups or elsewhere in the private sector. Our policy is to promote diversity, choice, quality and cost- effectiveness. We are currently reviewing possible ways of extending opportunities still further for the under fives, as resources allow. We will announce our conclusions when we are ready.

Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what estimate his Department has made of the educational and social benefits of nursery education.

Mr. Robin Squire : I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) on 17 February at columns 934-35.

School Places (Portsmouth)

21. Mr. David Martin : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what representations he has received from Hampshire local education authority concerning school places in Portsmouth.

Mr. Forth : None.

Public Examinations (Course Work)

24. Mrs. Helen Jackson : To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will make a statement about the role of course work in GCSE.

Mr. Robin Squire : My right hon. Friend is clear that the proportion of course work assessment must be appropriate to the type of qualification and to the knowledge, skills and understanding that are being tested. He recognises that some aspects of achievement are better assessed through course work than through terminal examination.

Medical Students (Financial Support)

25. Mrs. Gillan : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what consideration he has given to special provision of further financial support for medical students and others on four and five-year degree courses ; and if he will make a statement.


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Mr. Boswell : My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer told the House on 30 November 1993 that the total support available to students through the mandatory maintenance grant and the student loan would rise by 4 per cent. in 1994-95. The same annual rates of grant and loans apply to all students irrespective of their course length. We have no plans to change that arrangement.

Truancy

27. Mr. Roger Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what were the principal findings of the tables on truancy published last year by his Department.

Mr. Forth : The tables published in November 1993 found that significant amounts of valuable learning time are being lost due to unauthorised absence ; 12 per cent. of all pupils in primary and in secondary schools had been absent without authority in the period covered by the tables. An average of 12 half-days were lost by every absent primary school pupil and 24 half-days were lost by every absent secondary pupil. Rates of unauthorised absence varied widely between individual LEAs and schools.


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Grant-maintained Schools

28. Mr. Duncan Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many pupils are now being educated in self-governing grant-maintained schools.

Mr. Robin Squire : We estimate that over 530,000 pupils are currently being educated in grant-maintained schools. As more schools join the sector next month this total will rise to over 580,000.

Assisted Places Scheme

29. Mr. Quentin Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will make a statement on the future of the assisted places scheme.

Mr. Forth : The Government remain fully committed to this excellent scheme. We expect to achieve our target--namely, 35,000 available places in England and Wales, by 1995.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Janner : To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many, and what percentage of officers in each of grades 1 to 7 and overall in his Department are (a) women, (b) from ethnic minorities and (c) disabled, respectively.

Mr. Boswell : The figures are as follows :


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Grade        |Number of |Percentage|Number of |Percentage|Number of |Percentage           

             |women     |Women     |ethnics   |ethnics   |disabled  |disabled             

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Grade 1      |0         |0.0       |0         |0.0       |0         |0.0                  

Grade 2      |0         |0.0       |0         |0.0       |0         |0.0                  

Grade 3      |0         |0.0       |0         |0.0       |0         |0.0                  

Grade 4      |1         |25.0      |0         |0.0       |0         |0.0                  

Grade 5      |12        |26.1      |0         |0.0       |1         |2.2                  

Grade 6      |2         |13.3      |0         |0.0       |0         |0.0                  

Grade 7      |44        |28.8      |4         |2.6       |1         |0.7                  

             |_______   |_______   |_______   |_______   |_______   |_______              

Total in DFE | 1,309    | 58.4     | 164      | 7.3      | 63       | 2.9                 

There were other staff in the Department with disabilities who chose not to register and are not therefore included in the figures. These figures include 376 staff in post in the Teachers' Pensions Agency.

Parental Appeals

Dr. Wright : To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will give figures, in total and for each local education authority, on the number and percentage of parental appeals on school admission which are (a) rejected, (b) withdrawn, (c) settled and (d) upheld ; and if he will give these figures for both the earliest and latest years for which they are available since 1964.

Mr. Robin Squire : Data on the number of parents securing their first choice of secondary school are not collected centrally. However, the most recent evidence--from surveys commissioned by the Association of Metropolitan Authorities in 1992 and The Times in 1993--shows that some 90 per cent. of parents gain a place at their first choice of school.


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