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Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education if she will name the schools which are fully operating the electronic equipment in schools to combat truancy.

Mr. Forth: It is for individual schools and governing bodies to determine whether or not to install electronic equipment to combat truancy. Details of those which have done so are not collected centrally.

Grant-maintained Schools Foundation

Mr. Hall: To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) what are the annual running costs of the Grant-Maintained Schools Foundation offices in London, Bolton, Kirklees and Willenhall;

(2) how much rent per annum the Grant-Maintained Schools Foundation pays for its head office and its regional offices in Bolton, Kirklees and Willenhall;

(3) how many staff are employed by the Grant-Maintained Schools Foundation in its offices in London, Bolton, Kirklees and Willenhall.

Mr. Robin Squire: The Grant-Maintained Schools Foundation's budget estimates for 1994 95 included £56,000 for rent and £401,000 for other running costs, including staffing, for its London office; and £8,000 for rent and £148,000 for other running costs, including staffing, for its local offices in Bolton, Kirklees and Walsall. There are currently 7.7 full-time equivalent staff employed at the London office and four full-time staff at the three local offices.

Case Study Booklets

Mr. Hall: To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) how many voluntary schools have ordered copies of the case study booklet on former voluntary schools; and how much her Department spent on the production of the booklet;

(2) how many (a) primary and (b) secondary schools have ordered copies of the case study booklet on the experiences of

grant-maintained primary schools; and how much her Department spent on the production of the booklet.

Mr. Robin Squire: The three "Experiences" booklets about primary, secondary and former voluntary grant-maintained schools each provide factual information


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on grant-maintained status through case studies of seven schools. It is not possible to disaggregate the production costs of these booklets: the combined total cost of all three booklets was £112,500. To the end of October, some 11,100 copies of the primary booklet, 11, 700 copies of the secondary booklet and 10,200 copies of the former voluntary booklet had been distributed. The Department does not keep records of the number of schools ordering these booklets.

GM Conferences

Mr. Hall: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many "Going GM" conferences her Department has organised in each year since 1989 90; at what cost; and how many schools attended each conference.

Mr. Robin Squire: The numbers of "Going GM" conferences organised by the Department are as follows:

1989 90 Nil

1990 91 Nil

1991 92 Nil

1992 93 11

1993 94 18

1994 95 8 (to date).

The total cost of these 37 conferences is estimated to be £583, 000. The number of schools represented at each conference has varied from 22 to 139, with an average of 78. Most schools send more than one delegate to these conferences.

Doncaster College for the Deaf

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Education if she will make a statement in respect of the Further Education Funding Council's decision not to accept Doncaster college for the deaf as a recognised college of further education for the deaf.

Mr. Boswell: The Further Education Funding Council has confirmed that it will continue to fund places for students with learning difficulties and disabilities at Doncaster college for the deaf in cases which meet the council's published criteria for such placements.

Internet

Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what plans she has to provide information via Internet; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Forth: The Department is enthusiastic about the potential for using the Internet to facilitate the exchange of information. There are many opportunities and challenges arising from the new communications technology that need to be addressed in all areas of education.

The Department is undertaking pilot projects on the type of material best suited to this style of display. Press notices, including those containing statistical tables, could be made available electronically in this way. Electronic versions of departmental circulars and administrative memoranda might also provide a helpful reference service for educational bodies, as would current awareness lists of publications available from my Department and related bodies. The dissemination of information could be speeded up by providing electronic order forms.


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In due course, advantage will be taken of the information pages of the Internet to hold reference material and departmental advice on a range of topics.

The Department will be participating in the follow up to the consultative meeting on information superhighways organised by the Government centre for information systems on 21 November, which has led to the formation of a number of collaborative open groups to look into various aspects of future superhighway development.

Further Education Colleges

Mr. Bryan Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Education if she will make a statement on the application of the Trustee Investments Act 1961 to colleges of further education.

Mr. Boswell: An authoritative legal interpretation is a matter for the courts. My right hon. Friend is aware of differing external advice on the application of the Act to further education corporations. In the absence of an authoritative interpretation of the Act, it would be prudent for further education corporations to act on the basis that the Act applies to them. The Further Education Funding Council for England has issued guidance on the Act in its publication "Guide for College Governors" and in its circular 93/13.

Mr. Bryan Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Education if she will make a statement on the application of the Trustee Act 1925 to the governors of further education colleges; and what external advice she has received on the question.

Mr. Boswell: An authoritative legal interpretation is a matter for the courts. My right hon. Friend is aware of differing external advice on the application of the Act to further education corporations. In the absence of an authoritative interpretation of the Act, it would be prudent for further education corporations to act on the basis that the Act applies to them. For the purpose of whether members of corporations may receive any remuneration for their services as a member, my right hon. Friend considers that the lawfulness of any such payment will also depend on whether she has approved the payment in writing.

SCOTLAND

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what evidence he has to suggest that BSE is either horizontally or maternally transmitted; and if he will make a statement.

Sir Hector Monro: There is no unequivocal evidence from field or experimental studies that the disease can be passed from cow to cow-- horizontal transmission--or from a cow to its calf--vertical or maternal transmission.

Christmas Expenditure

Mr. Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much public money will be spent on entertaining, Christmas decorations and other festive activities this Christmas season by his Department and Government agencies answerable to his Department; and of this sum


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how much will be spent in Ministers' private offices and official residences.

Mr. Lang: Disaggregated information of this nature is not available. As regards amounts spent on official hospitality, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 25 October, Official Report, column 594 to the question by the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor).

Students (Exam Results)

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many students in each of the last three years in Scotland were dissatisfied with the higher grades allocated to them and asked for for their papers to be remarked; and in how many cases original marks were (a) upgraded, (b) downgraded and (c) unchanged.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The conditions for the award of the Scottish certificate of education do not include specific provisions for the remarking of candidates' scripts after the issue of results. Presenting centres are however able to appeal on behalf of candidates for reconsideration of an award at higher grade at band "C" or above on the basis of attainment other than that produced in the Scottish Examination Board's set examination. The table sets out information in relation to


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higher grade appeals submitted in each of the last three years.


                            |1992  |1993  |1994         

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

No. of appeals submitted    |16,488|16,731|18,761       

No. of successful appeals   |6,902 |7,467 |7,764        

No. of unsuccessful appeals |9,586 |9,264 |10,997       

Source:                                                 

Scottish Examination Board.                             

Teachers

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the level of expenditure incurred in training (a) a teacher with a postgraduate certificate and (b) a teacher with a bachelor of education in Scotland for the years 1990 91 to 1993 94 inclusive; and if he will make a statement.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: Comprehensive information for the years 1990 91 to 1993 94 is not available. The information set out in the table is based upon returns from teacher education institutions detailing course costs for the years 1990 91 and 1991 92 and funding allocated to institutions by the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council for teacher education in 1993 94. The figures include also an estimate of student support costs, assuming entitlement to full maintenance grant and loan at the "home" rates.


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Estimated annual cost per student                                                                                   

                                              |1990-91      |1991-92      |1992-93      |1993-94                    

Course                                        |£            |£            |£            |£                          

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

PGCE Primary (one year postgraduate course)   |7,110        |7,220        |Not available|7,200                      

PGCE Secondary (one year postgraduate course) |7,690        |7,290        |Not available|7,200                      

BEd Primary (4 year course)                   |6,680        |6,570        |Not available|6,760                      

BEd Secondary (4 year course)                 |7,850        |6,620        |Not available|7,450                      

Education (Complaints)

Mrs. Ray Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he has taken to improve the complaints procedures for parents in Scotland this year; and in which education authorities.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: It is important that education authorities have good complaints procedures so that parents can secure proper redress if things go wrong in schools. While such complaints procedures are primarily a matter for education authorities, the Scottish Office Education Department recently provided funding of £6,000 to the Scottish Consumer Council toward research in this field. The results of the research are contained in a report by the council on complaints and redress in Scottish schools, published in August 1994, entitled "Could Do Better". I welcome the report as a valuable contribution to the improvement of complaints procedures.

Local Government Reorganisation

Mrs. Ray Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what grants will be available from the local authorities to support the work of educational, social and cultural organisations after the present regional councils cease to exist.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: It will be for the new councils to determine the nature and level of support to educational, social and cultural organisations in the light of their statutory and other responsibilities. They will do


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so by taking into account both the information provided by their predecessors on funding of voluntary organisations and expenditure priorities for the resources available to them.

Dounreay

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent reports his Department has received from the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority on radiological safety and contamination at the Dounreay nuclear facility.

Sir Hector Monro: My Department receives regular reports from Dounreay, the most recent was an interim report on radioactive metallic particle finds on the Dounreay foreshore and was received by HM industrial pollution inspectorate on 27 October.

Loganair

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if his Department has as yet imposed financial penalties on Loganair in respect of the number of cancelled passenger flights between Glasgow and Barra; and if he will make a statement.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The level of financial support paid to Loganair for the operation of the Glasgow-Tiree-Barra air service in the current financial year has been abated to take account of the number of cancellations on the route.


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Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what feasibility studies he carried out on the passenger air link service between Glasgow and Barra before awarding it to Loganair.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The award of the contract to Loganair was made on the basis of a full evaluation of the bids received.

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the terms and conditions arranged between his Department and Loganair for supplying a passenger air service between Glasgow and Barra.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The terms and conditions of contract between Loganair and the Scottish Office require the operator to provide a specified service between Glasgow and Tiree and Barra in return for the provision of financial support, up to a specified limit, based on the deficit incurred in operating the service. In general terms the operator is required to operate in accordance with the CAA regulatory regime, to advise the Scottish Office of any failure to operate the specified service, and to provide detailed financial information on the performance of the service. The contract can be terminated by either party with six months' notice and the consent of the Secretary of State is required for every change in the capacity, frequency, nature or any other attribute of the service.

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the current cost of the public subsidy paid to Loganair for operating a passenger air service between Glasgow and Barra.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The financial support provided by the Scottish Office is for the operation of the air service between Glasgow and Tiree and Barra. The service operates as a combined service for part of the year and the Glasgow to Barra route is not identified separately. Financial support of up to £115,000 is payable for the operation of the service for each year of the contract between Loganair and the Scottish Office.

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many complaints to date his Department had received in respect of the Loganair- Shorts 360 passenger air link service between Glasgow and Barra; and if he will make a statement.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The Scottish Office has received 15 letters about the reliability of the air service between Glasgow and Tiree and Barra since the introduction of the Shorts 360 aircraft in March 1994. In addition, a petition containing 147 names was received requesting the replacement of the Shorts 360 aircraft on the Barra leg of the air service. In responding to the correspondence it was emphasised that the operation of the service was being monitored closely and that discussions were underway with the operator on ways in which improvements in reliability could be achieved quickly.

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what reason Loganair gave his Department for suspending the De Haviland Twin Otter air link between Glasgow and Barra and replacing it with the Short 360; and what negotiations it had with his Department before implementing the change.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: Loganair's decision to dispose of its Twin Otter on the Glasgow-Tiree-Barra air service was made on the ground of the aircraft's age. The Shorts 360 aircraft was introduced with the intention


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of upgrading the service to improve passenger comfort, and increasing passenger and freight capacity. The Scottish Office, as the contractor, was consulted about the proposed change.

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many times the Loganair-Shorts 360 aircraft passenger service between (a) Glasgow and Barra and (b) Barra and Glasgow has been cancelled since the service first became operational; and what percentage of total services this represents.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: In the period 28 March 1994 to 24 November 1994 inclusive, there were 210 scheduled rotations by the Shorts 360 on the Glasgow-Barra-Glasgow element of the Glasgow- Tiree-Barra air service. During this period 42 rotations, or 20 per cent. of the total, were cancelled. It is estimated that 22 rotational cancellations were linked to the operational limitations of the Shorts 360 aircraft.

Business Rates

Mr. Kynoch: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on business rates for 1995 96.

Mr. Lang: The estimated outcome of the 1995 revaluation will allow the average non-domestic rate poundage in Scotland to be reduced from its present level. I therefore propose to prescribe for 1995 96 a single rate poundage applying throughout the country of 43.2p and, at the same time, to abolish industrial derating entirely.

The introduction of a unified business rate poundage of 43.2p for Scotland, at the same level as in England, represents the successful culmination of the progress that has been made in recent years towards harmonising poundages. In the years after 1995 96 we will maintain a unified business rate in Scotland and it will continue to be pegged at the same level as in England to ensure a level playing field for Scottish business. This harmonisation will continue through future revaluations, and maintaining it will not be a burden on the Scottish Office expenditure programmes.

Taking together the effects of the forthcoming revaluation with this decision on the level of the rate poundage, I estimate that there will be significant local and sectoral shifts in rate burdens. My Department's consultation paper, published last month, outlined proposals for transitional arrangements to phase in the effect of these shifts on rate bills. In the light of responses to that paper, and the package of support announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer today, I now propose that no business will face year-on-year increases of more than 10 per cent., after allowing for inflation. For property with a new rateable value of less than £10, 000, the maximum real increase will be 7.5 per cent., while for part-residential subjects with a rateable value of less than £10,000 the corresponding limit will be 5 per cent.

The Exchequer contribution, amounting to £72 million in 1995 96, will cover part of the cost of the scheme. The remaining element will be met by limiting real reductions in rates bills, in line with one of the options presented in the consultation paper. For 1995 96, the limits will be 10 per cent. for properties with a new rateable value below £10,000 and 5 per cent. for larger ones.

Other details of the transitional arrangements will be based on the proposals in the consultation paper. My officials intend to hold further detailed discussions with


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the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and the Scottish Assessors' Association in the light of responses to the paper. Once these consultative discussions are concluded, regulations giving effect to these proposals will be laid before Parliament.

Common Services Agency

Mr. Kynoch: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress has been made in the sale of the building division of the Common Services Agency; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lang: Following an invitation to tender, 41 companies including a joint in-house management team and company expressed interest. This resulted in seven bids and following further clarification of these and negotiations with the parties I am pleased to announce that the Common Services Agency has with my consent accepted the offer from W.S. Atkins. The result is a receipt of £250, 000 plus VAT to be re-invested in health care in Scotland and the continuity of employment for around 100 staff who will transfer with their existing workload to their new employers on 1 December 1994. The transfer is subject to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 and will be a clean break for the agency with no continuing liabilities and warranties to be underwritten by it.

I regard the outcome as in the best interests of the taxpayer, of the staff and for the NHS in Scotland.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Kynoch: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will announce details of the 1995 96 Scottish local government finance settlement.

Mr. Lang:

Government Support Expenditure

I propose that Government supported expenditure--GSE--for 1995 96 should be set at £6,116.9 million. Inclusive of additional provision for care in the community, this is an increase of 1.72 per cent. on the current year's figure.

Grant Aided Expenditure

I estimate that local authorities will incur £798.7 million on loan and leasing charges in 1995 96. This amount is top-sliced from GSE, leaving a residual amount for grant aided expenditure--GAE--of £5,318.2 million. This figure is 1.11 per cent. higher than that for the current year. I shall announce GAE figures for individual local authorities as soon as possible.

Aggregate External Finance

I further propose that Government-determined support for local authority current expenditure--that is, aggregate external finance (AEF)--for 1995 96 should be set at £5,306 million. This is an increase of 0.64 per cent. on the current year's figure. Proposals for the distribution of AEF to individual local authorities are again likely to be issued before Christmas.

Provisional Capping Principles

To assist local authorities in their budgeting process, I have again decided to announce provisional capping principles for the year ahead. I have the power to cap a Scottish local authority either where I consider that its planned expenditure is excessive or where there is an excessive increase in its planned expenditure as compared


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with the previous year. My provisional capping principles for 1995 96 are:

(a) for regional and islands councils

any increase in budget between 1994 95 and 1995 96 of more than 0.7 per cent. will be an excessive increase if the resulting budget is above the local authority's grant aided expenditure (GAE) assessment for 1995 96;

(b) for district councils

any increase in budget between 1994 95 and 1995 96 of more than 0.5 per cent. will be an excessiveincrease if the resulting budget is above the local authority's GAE assessment for 1995 96; and (c) for all local authorities

any budget for 1995 96 more than 12.5 per cent. above the local authority's GAE assessment will be excessive save that:

(a) if that budget is 30 per cent. or less above the authority's GAE assessment for 1995-96 and that budget is no greater than the budget set by that authority for 1994 95, the authority will not be capped;

(b) if that budget is 60 per cent. or less above the authority's GAE assessment for 1995 96 and that budget is at least 5 per cent. below the budget set by that authority for 1994 95, the authority will not be capped;

(c) if that budget is at least 10 per cent. below the budget set by the authority for 1994 95, the authority will not be capped. Council Tax Transitional Relief Scheme

As we are now approaching the third year of the council tax and tax payers have had an opportunity to adjust to the new system, I have decided not to continue in 1995 96 the transitional relief scheme which has operated for the past two years.

In determining the level of this settlement, I have assumed--in line with the Government's general approach to public sector pay--that any pay increases for Scottish local authority employees will be fully funded by efficiency savings. The settlement includes provision for a number of additional burdens being placed on local authorities next year including improvements to school and social work transport, the continued introduction of devolved school management, child care developments and the costs of the elections of the shadow councils. This is a tight settlement but, having regard to the low level of inflation and the Government's approach to public sector pay, a realistic one. The onus is now on local authorities to act sensibly in setting their budgets and council tax levels for next year. I shall not hesitate to use my capping powers to prevent excessive expenditure.

Nurses

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the number of qualified nursing staff by specialty for each region in each of the last five years.

Lord James Douglas Hamilton: As information requested is rather lengthy I am arranging for a copy of the reply to be sent to the hon. Member and will place a copy in the Library of the House.

Ministerial Travel

Mrs. Roche: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many overseas visits he and each of his Ministers made between 1 January and 30 June; during how many


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he or each of his Ministers participated in fund-raising activities for the Conservative party; and if he will list the Ministers and the countries in which these activities took place.


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