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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 19 April 1994

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Child Witnesses

Mrs. Golding : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department which courts in Staffordshire have child liaison officers to protect child witnesses ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John M. Taylor : There is a designated child liaison officer for every Crown court centre, including the combined court centres at Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent.

Judges

Mr. Brazier : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what was the expenditure on salaries of all (a) full-time district judges and (b) part-time district judges in the 1993-94 financial year.

Mr. John M. Taylor : During the 1993-94 financial year, the total amount paid to full-time district judges was £18,427,591. The figure for part-time district judges is not yet available for the whole financial year, but for the 11-month period from April 1993 to February 1994, the fees amounted to £4,870,627.

Mr. Brazier : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what is the planned increase for the years 1994, 1995 and 1996 in (a) full-time district judges and (b) part-time district judges.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The number of full-time district judges in post on 1 March 1994 was 289. The planned number of full-time district judges for the three forthcoming financial years is :


        |Number       

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

1994-95 |305          

1995-96 |309          

1996-97 |314          

There are no plans to increase the number of deputy district judges from the present level of 750.

Small Claims Court

Mr. Mans : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many leaflets his Department distributed in 1993 explaining the processes of the small claims courts.

Mr. John M. Taylor : A series of seven leaflets explains the small claims procedure in county courts. The total number distributed in 1993 was approximately 1.5 million. The leaflets are distributed by Her Majesty's Stationery Office to court offices, trading standards offices, citizens advice bureaux and other advice agencies.


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Mr. Mans : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many actions were commenced through the small claims court in each year from 1990.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The term "small claims court" refers to the arbitration procedure in the county court. The number of arbitrations heard --which mainly, but not exclusively, consist of cases below the small claims limit--in England and Wales since 1990 were :


          |Number             

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

1990      |52,360             

1991      |<1>61,919          

1992      |80,341             

1993      |105,843            

<1> On 1 July 1991 the        

maximum sum claimable through 

the small claims procedure    

increased from £500 to £1,    

000.                          

Consultants

Mr. Milburn : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, pursuant to his answer of 23 March, Official Report, column 275, if he will list the firms of consultants employed by his Department in each of the last five years and the number of contracts they have undertaken.

Mr. John M. Taylor : Firms of consultants employed in 1992-93 on projects costing more than £20,000 and the number of contracts that they undertook were as follows :


Consultants                   |Number of              

                              |Contracts              

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

Price Waterhouse              |6                      

Grasshopper Computers Ltd.    |3                      

TRIAD Special Systems Ltd.    |1                      

WS Atkins                     |2                      

KPMG                          |2                      

Coopers & Lybrand             |2                      

Ernst & Young                 |2                      

University of Westminster     |1                      

PE International              |1                      

Compucare                     |1                      

Baz Services Ltd.             |1                      

LBMS                          |1                      

Comshare                      |1                      

CSC                           |1                      

Aims Systems                  |1                      

Sapphire Consultancy Services |1                      

Clark Whitehill               |1                      

Enviroplan                    |1                      

Benford Associates            |1                      

Clarkson Goff Management      |1                      

John Garnett                  |1                      

There were also some 70 projects each costing less than £20,000 in 1992-93. As I said in my answer of 23 March, comparable information for earlier years is not available.

Lawyers

Mr. Allen : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what is the current number of (a) Queen's Counsel and (b) barristers ; and how many of each are (i) women and (ii) members of ethnic minorities.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The Lord Chancellor's Department does not have statistics on practitioners in the


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legal profession. However, I am informed by the Bar Council that as at 1 October 1993 there were 7,735 practising barristers, of whom 1, 593 were women. At the same date there were 797 practising Queen's Counsel, of whom 41 were women. I am also informed by the Bar Council that of a total of 7,660 practising barristers on 6 September 1993, 347 had declared a non-white ethnic origin. Of these, nine were Queen's Counsel. Seventy-seven new practising Queen's Counsel have been appointed this year. Of these, nine were women and one was of non- white ethnic origin.

Advice Services

Mr. Michael : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what is the Government's policy towards the provision of a network of independent advice and law centres throughout the country ; and what response he has made to the Advice 2000 initiative launched by the Advice Services Alliance.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The Lord Chancellor's objectives for legal aid and the Legal Aid Board make it clear that he wishes to encourage law centres, citizens advice bureaux and others to take on an increasing proportion of work which it is appropriate for them to handle. The Legal Aid Board is currently undertaking two projects : the first is designed to ascertain whether methods of delivering legal services other than on a case -by-case basis would have benefits and the second to enable the board to set standards applicable to non-solicitor agencies. Information from these projects should assist consideration of how to achieve the above objective.

TREASURY

Taxes Management Act 1970

Mr. Wallace : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proposals he has to consult interested parties regarding any future amendment of section 20A of the Taxes Management Act 1970 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Dorrell : The Inland Revenue is at present consulting the accountancy and legal professions over its draft guidance notes on the use of section 20A. The Government will be considering how to take the matter forward in the light of any responses to the draft guidance notes and the points made in Committee.

European Monetary Union

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consultation and preparation work is being carried on by which European Union institutions, committees and organisations about monetary union, the reconstruction of the exchange rate mechanism, the restoration of the coinage clearing systems and the institutional arrangements for monetary union ; what part Britain is playing in both of these processes and organisations ; how many British officials and committees are working on this issue (a) in the EU structures and (b) domestically ; and what consultations are being held with British banks and financial institutions by EU officials and his own officials about monetary union.

Mr. Nelson : Monetary co-operation in the European Union is regularly discussed by the Council of the


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European Monetary Institute, the Monetary Committee and the Council of Finance Ministers. In all those forums, the United Kingdom plays a full and constructive part.

The Commission has announced its intention of setting up a study group of independent experts to advise on some of the practical issues which would arise on implementation of a single currency. A number of United Kingdom and Bank of England officials are concerned with European monetary issues. The Government and the bank are represented on the Monetary Committee ; the bank is represented on the EMI council.

British banks and financial institutions are also consulted as necessary by both British and Commission officials.

There have never been EC coinage clearing systems, so the question of their restoration does not arise.

Customs and Excise (Cheques)

Mr. Spellar : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what is the practice of Customs and Excise in respect of sending large denomination cheques through the post ;

(2) what security procedures are adopted to protect cheques sent by post by Customs and Excise.

Sir John Cope : Customs continually encourages businesses to provide it with bank account details so that repayments can be electronically transferred. However, not all traders yet take advantage of that facility and almost 1 million payable orders, with a total value in excess of £7 billion, are issued each year by first-class post.

In conjunction with Her Majesty's Treasury, customs has been taking steps to increase even further the security measures for payable orders. These include higher levels of security printing so as to make alteration of the payee's name more difficult.

Mr. Spellar : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will make a statement regarding the repayment of £1 million to the London borough of Haringey by Customs and Excise ;

(2) what steps are being taken by Customs and Excise to recover £1 million misappropriated en route to the London borough of Haringey.

Sir John Cope : The payment of £1 million to Haringey borough council was in respect of a claim by it for a lost payable order of £1,156,806.10, plus interest and repayment supplement. Settlement of the claim was made on the basis of advice from counsel and the full agreement of the parties involved.

Inquiries into the case, by the police and customs, are still continuing.

Petrol

Mr. Nigel Evans : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the total excise and revenue raised from petrol sales in (a) 1990-91, (b) 1991-92 and (c) 1992-93.

Sir John Cope : Information on the excise duty and VAT revenue raised from petrol sales in (a) 1990-91, (b) 1991-92 and (c) 1992-93 is provided in the table :


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£ billion                                         

                  |1990-91|1991-92|1992-93        

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

Excise duty       |7.0    |8.0    |8.2            

VAT (estimated)   |1.3    |1.5    |1.6            

                  |-------|-------|-------        

Total tax revenue |8.3    |9.6    |9.7            

Note: Components do not necessarilyt sum to the   

total due to rounding.                            

No direct figures are available for the VAT raised on petrol. An estimate has been made using national accounts data ; it covers only consumers' expenditure--the yield from business is highly uncertain because the majority of businesses can reclaim the VAT paid as in-put tax.

Mr. Nigel Evans : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the total income to the Treasury from value added tax on petrol in 1992-93.

Sir John Cope : The total income to the Treasury from value added tax on petrol in 1992-93 is estimated at £1.6 billion.

No direct figures are available for the VAT raised on petrol. An estimate has been made using national accounts data ; it covers only consumers' expenditure--the yield from business is highly uncertain because the majority of businesses can reclaim the VAT paid as in-put tax.

Fuel (VAT)

Mr. Boyes : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement about the effect of pre-payment by large-scale gas and electricity users to avoid value added tax on domestic fuel from 1 April ; and what assessment he has made of the scheme of pre-payment and its effect on (a) the revenue expected from the tax and (b) the level of savings held in building societies.

Sir John Cope : I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 13 April, Official Report, column 171.

Child Maintenance

Dr. Spink : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what impact the recent tax changes will have on the Child Support Agency assessments for child maintenance ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Portillo : To the extent that they affect the net incomes of absent parents, the recent direct tax changes will alter the assessments.

Pensioner Certificates

Mrs. Helen Jackson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he will take to ensure that the age limit is reduced from 65 years to 60 years for women to be able to invest in pensioner certificates.

Mr. Nelson : There are no plans to change the present age limit for purchase of the National Savings pensioners guaranteed income bond.

Central Statistical Office

Mr. Burns : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what key targets have been set for the Central Statistical Office for 1994-95.

Mr. Nelson : The Central Statistical Office's key targets for 1994- 95 are set out in the "CSO Programme Strategies


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1994-97", a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House. As before, the targets cover the timeliness of published statistics, the size of revisions, the coherence of key economic statistics, the response rates for statistical inquiries, action to minimise the load on respondents, response times to public requests for information and the CSO's running costs, efficiency improvements and receipts. A number of the targets have been tightened for 1994-95 in recognition of the continuing improvements in the CSO's performance.

Council Tax

Mr. Cann : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many domestic properties in England and Wales have been re-banded on sale and repurchase ; and, of these, how many have had their banding increased and how many decreased.

Mr. Nelson : The Valuation Office Agency does not keep a record of how many bandings are increased or decreased in England and Wales as a result of a sale.

Mr. Cann : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what criteria are used to decide the rebanding of domestic properties on sale and repurchase ;

(2) what steps are taken by the Inland Revenue to review the banding for council tax purposes on the sale and repurchase of domestic properties.

Mr. Nelson : A listing officer is required to alter the banding of a property following the sale or other relevant transaction if the banding does not reflect the value added by improvements carried out by the previous taxpayer. Otherwise, the listing officer will review a banding following sale of the property only if the sale price is significantly different from the figure that would reasonably have been expected at that date for a property with that banding. In such cases, he will consider all the evidence available to him of the value of the property as at the valuation date of 1 April 1991, including any relevant sale prices at or around that date, in order to establish whether there is any inaccuracy that requires to be remedied.

Mr. Cann : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if it is his policy to reband other similar properties in the same area where a property is rebanded for council tax purposes on sale and repurchase.

Mr. Nelson : Where a property is reviewed and rebanded following a sale or other relevant transaction because the band does not reflect the value of the improvements carried out by the previous taxpayer, the banding of other similar properties in the locality is not reviewed. Where a property is reviewed and rebanded following a sale which indicates that the original entry in the compiled valuation list was incorrect and the listing officer is aware that similar properties in the locality may be incorrect, the banding of those properties is reviewed.

Tiger Products

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 29 March, Official Report, column 640, if he will give details of the countries of origin of the tiger products seized by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise ; and in each case what was the ultimate destination of the products.


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Sir John Cope [holding answer 18 April 1994] : It is not always possible to determine the origin--as opposed to country of consignment--of goods, but the following additional information may be of help in connection with the seized tiger derivatives listed in my previous answer :


Item                                |Country of               

                                    |consignment              

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

Handbag                             |Australia                

Skin (whole and piece); two claws   |India                    

Pair of shoes                       |Saudi Arabia             

50 boxes pills; 12 packets plasters |Hong Kong                

20 packets plasters                 |USA                      

                                                              

Item                                |Country of               

                                    |origin                   

All other goods                     |China                    

In all cases customs seized the goods ; there is no information on their intended ultimate destination other than the declared United Kingdom address of the importer.

Trading Profits (Midlands)

Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what level of change in profit margins has been reported in (a) the west midlands and (b) Coventry in each quarter since April 1991.

Mr. Nelson [holding answer 13 April 1994] : Information on profit margins is not available but gross trading profits in the west midlands standard region are estimated at £4,903 million in 1991 and £5,266 million in 1992. No estimates have yet been made for 1993. There are no quarterly estimates and none for Coventry separately.

NATIONAL HERITAGE

Tobacco (Sponsorship)

Mr. Barron : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what was the amount spent in each year since 1985, by tobacco manufacturing companies on sponsorship of each sport, under the terms of the voluntary agreement.

Mr. Brooke : Records are not kept of the amount of sponsorship money spent on each individual sport. The voluntary agreement on sponsorship requires tobacco manufacturers represented on the Tobacco Advisory Council to inform the Government of the expenditure incurred each year on sports sponsorship in the United Kingdom. These amounts are as follows :


Year      |£                  

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

1985-86   |8,252,000          

1986-87   |7,699,000          

1987-88   |5,911,000          

1988-89   |5,329,000          

1989-90   |7,253,000          

1990-91   |7,630,000          

1991-92   |8,981,000          


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Broadcasting Directive

Sir Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage when he was notified by the European Community Commission of its intention to take the United Kingdom to court over the broadcasting directive ; and what particular issue is being pursued.

Mr. Brooke [holding answer 18 April 1994] : I refer to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend on 13 April, Official Report, column 190. I was informed on 23 March by the United Kingdom's representative in Brussels, though I have yet to receive a formal communication from the Commission.

All-seater Stadiums

Mr. Ashton : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans he has to announce changes in the proposals for all-seater stadiums to be installed at premier league and first division football clubs before the end of 1994.

Mr. Brooke [holding answer 15 April 1994] : I have no such plans. The 1 August deadline for all-seating at premier league and first division clubs remains unchanged.

EDUCATION

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many parliamentary questions to his Department have not been answered because of disproportionate costs or because the information requested was not held centrally over the last five years ; how many could be answered now due to computerisation and/or more effective operational systems ; and if he will list each such question along with the name and constituency of the hon. Member who tabled it.

Mr. Boswell : The number of answers given to parliamentary questions by the Department for Education--and the Department of Education and Science prior to April 1992--between January 1987 and December 1993 recorded in the POLIS database as including a reference to part or all of the information being available only at disproportionate cost was 260. Details of each of these questions can be obtained from the POLIS database, access to which is available in the Library. The further information requested is not currently available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Grant-maintained Status

Mrs. Ann Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many copies of the GM pack, "Going GM", including, "How to become a GM School", "Experiences During the First Year", "Questions Parents Ask", "Questions Staff Ask" and "Funding Worksheet", have been sent to school heads and governors ; and what is the total cost of the information sent, including postage costs.

Mr. Robin Squire : A composite Department for Education information pack on grant-maintained status was first issued in September 1992. Its contents have varied a little for particular purposes over time. Numbers issued fall into the following categories :


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a. circulation of updated publications following the Education Act 1993, to chairmen of governors of all maintained schools in December 1993 (22,531 copies at a total cost of some £63,000, including also DFE Circular 18/93 "Grant-Maintained Schools : Acquisition, Transfer and Governance") ;

b. accompanying invitations to attend the Department's regional "Going GM" conferences, sent to headteachers and chairmen of governors in batches between September 1992 and December 1993 (57,092 copies at an estimated total cost of some £127,000). A further mailing has taken place within the last week of 10,118 invitations with packs ; figures on the cost of this mailing are not available yet ;

c. in response to requests, some of which were from headteachers and governors, between September 1992 and December 1993 (approximately 78,000 copies at an estimated cost of £110,000, exclusive of postage). Since January 1994 the contents of the individual packs have been specifically tailored to the needs of individual enquirers.

Cost estimates reflect the variation in pack contents over time.

Mrs. Ann Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what is the total cost of each of the "Going GM" conferences held in Darlington on 3 February, Manchester on 18 February, Newcastle on 4 March and Huddersfield on 14 March ; how many school heads and how many governors attended each conference ; how many speakers were paid by the Department ; and how many civil servants attended in each case.

Mr. Robin Squire : The numbers attending and the costs of the Darlington, Manchester, Newcastle and Huddersfield "Going GM" conferences are set out in the table :


Conference   |Cost<1><2>  |Delegates<3>|Civil                    

             |£                        |servants<4>              

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

Darlington   |13,335      |94          |25                       

Manchester   |15,697      |114         |10                       

Newcastle    |14,131      |77          |13                       

Huddersfield |15,151      |102         |10                       

<1> Includes venue hire and catering, equipment costs, and pro   

rata conference support costs (secretariat, production, and      

conference management), and expenses payments to GM headteachers 

who spoke at the conferences and who have submitted an expenses  

claim.                                                           

<2> Does not include the cost of mailing invitations for these   

conferences, or related travel and subsistence costs for civil   

servants.                                                        

<3> The Department's records do not identify separately          

headteachers and governors attending "Going GM" conferences.     

<4> Attendance at a "Going GM" conference is often part of the   

induction process for Department officials new to                

grant-maintained schools policy. In particular, most of the      

civil servants at the Darlington conference were observers.      

Each conference was also attended by six head teachers from grant- maintained schools who spoke about their experiences in the GM sector. The Department reimburses head teachers for expenses incurred in speaking at "Going GM" conferences, but does not pay them a fee. To date, the Department has made payments totalling £857 in response to expenses claims from GM head teachers for the four conferences listed. These payments are included in the table.

Mrs. Ann Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what is his estimate of the cost of the freephone calls in response to the recent advertisements in the national press on GM status and his most recent figure of the number of calls received.

Mr. Robin Squire : To date, more than 1,100 of the responses to the advertising campaign were calls to the freephone number. To disaggregate the cost of these calls from that of other calls received by the Department's GM publications centre would involve disproportionate expense.

Nursery Education

Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what proportion of children in (a) the United Kingdom, (b) Germany, (c) France and (d) the USA have nursery places provided by (i) the Government sector and (ii) the non profit-making private sector.

Mr. Robin Squire : Information is not centrally available in the form requested. The table below shows the latest available information on combined public and private participation rates in pre-compulsory schooling. Separate participation rates are not available. There are also some differences between countries in the distinction drawn between education and day care. If the United Kingdom figures are defined to include nursery schools, nursery classes, infant classes, pre-school play groups and group day care, the participation rates for both three to four and three to five-year-olds increase to over 90 per cent.


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Participation in Pre-primary Education (Full and Part-time) by age group, 1991                                

                          Percentage of age                                                                   

                          group                                                                               

                         |Age at which                                      |Percentage of                    

                          Compulsory       Education                         preprimary provision             

                         |schooling starts                                  |which is within                  

                                                                            |the                              

                                                                            |private sector                   

                                          |3 to 5          |3 to 4          |<1>1991                          

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

France                   |6               |100             |100             |12                               

Germany                  |6               |63              |53              |<1><2>67                         

United Kingdom<3><4>     |5               |68              |52              |6                                

                                          |<5>68           |<5>53                                             

United States of America |<6>6-8          |60              |45              |<1>37                            

<1> 1990 for Germany and 1989 for United States of America.                                                   

<2> In Germany, some providers of private sector provision receive some public subsidy.                       

<3> Participation rates of those in school at start of calendar year with ages at that point.                 

<4> Age 3 includes some children age 2.                                                                       

<5> 1992 data.                                                                                                

<6> Varies between states.                                                                                    

Sources: Table AA: Education Statistics for the United Kingdom, 1993 edition;                                 

UNESCO Statistical Year Book 1993.                                                                            


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Surplus School Places

Mr. Byers : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what is his latest estimate of the average cost per surplus pupil place in respect of (a) a secondary pupil and (b) a primary pupil.

Mr. Forth : The average premises-related cost of maintaining a school place is estimated at £179 a year for a primary school place and £298 a year for a secondary school place at 1994-95 prices. The actual cost and the scope for realising savings from removal of surplus places in practice will depend on local circumstances.

Parental Choice

Mr. Byers : To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will list the figures, in total and for each local education authority, on the number of parents who secured the primary or secondary school of their first choice for their child for 1989-90 and 1990-91.

Mr. Robin Squire : Data on the number of parents securing their first choice of 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 secondary school.

Hanover Insurance Brokers

Mr. Byers : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what payments his Department has made, either directly or indirectly, to Hanover Insurance Brokers for their work in advising grant-maintained schools on issues concerning insurance.

Mr. Robin Squire : Hanover Insurance Brokers is one of a number of companies that advise grant-maintained schools on their insurance requirements. The Department has made no direct payment to Hanover Insurance Brokers in respect of this work. Arrangements for paying brokers in respect of advice on insurance is a matter for individual grant- maintained schools.

Grant-maintained Schools Foundation

Mr. Byers : To ask the Secretary of State for Education who are the directors of the Grant-Maintained Schools Foundation Ltd ; who has been appointed as chief executive ; and what was the Department's involvement in the appointments.

Mr. Robin Squire : The directors of the Grant-Maintained Schools Foundation Ltd. are Sir Robert Balchin, chairman, Mr. John Spiers, Sir Christopher Lawson, Mr. David Allan, OBE, Mr. Lawrence Norcross, OBE and Mr. Thomas Savage. The company's chief executive is Mr. Andrew Turner. The Department was not involved in the appointment of the directors or the chief executive.

Mr. Byers : To ask the Secretary of State for Education how much grant aid the new Grant-maintained Schools Foundation Ltd. has applied for in 1994-95 ; and what level of grant has been granted.

Mr. Robin Squire : The Grant-Maintained Schools Foundation Ltd. is currently in discussion with the Department about grant aid for 1994-95. Decisions on the total level of grant have yet to be taken.


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