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Mr. Redwood: The only representations I have received in relation to the local research ethics committee in South Glamorgan were from its two vice-chairmen. I have not had consultations on the role of the ethics committee with the chairmen of the health authority. Guidance on the establishment, operation and guiding principles of local research ethics committees was issued by the Department in a Welsh health circular in 1991. Chairmen of all ethics committees received detailed guidance on standards and operating procedures in October 1994. Members of committees in Wales attended a series of training workshops organised by the Department of Health late in 1994.
Information on the membership of each local research ethics committee in Wales is not held centrally, but can be obtained from the health authorities concerned.
Column 767Office towards the improvement of village halls in Wales in each of the last five years, including the current financial year; and what is the financial allocation for this purpose for 1995 96.
Mr. Richards: Improvements to village halls are funded under the voluntary youth services, village halls and community centres programme, and under the strategic development scheme (prior to 1994 95, the urban programme and the rural initiative).
Expenditure under the voluntary youth services, village halls and community centres programme is as follows:
|£ ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1990-91 |Outturn |528,000 1991-92 |Outturn |724,000 1992-93 |Outturn |551,000 1993-94 |Outturn |399,000 1994-95 |Estimated outturn|493,000 1995-96 |Plans |472,000
Approvals under the strategic development scheme, and previously the urban programme and the rural initiative, are as follows:
|Urban |Rural |programme |initiative |£ |£ ------------------------------------------------------- 1990-91 |Approvals |225,225 |- 1991-92 |Approvals |400,500 |154,500 1992-93 |Approvals |1,518,432 |185,000 1993-94 |Approvals |1,293,529 |343,344
Strategic development scheme |£ ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1994-95 |Approvals to date|2,648,808 1995-96 |Planned approvals|1,174,000
Figures are for approved capital projects only for each year. Projects funded include improvements to community centres, welfare halls and village halls.
Mr. Sweeney: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, what action is being taken by the Cardiff Bay development corporation to implement its plans for mitigation measures for birds that will be displaced from Cardiff bay on completion of barrage construction in 1988.
Mr. Redwood: The corporation, acting on the advice of the Countryside Council for Wales, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Land Authority for Wales, is reviewing the options for suitable site locations along the south Wales coastline between the Burry inlet and the Gwent levels. I hope to make an announcement about site acquisition within the next two to three months.
Mr. McMaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish a table showing the average time lapse between receipt and payment of invoices in his Department in each year since 1985; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Lang: I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington) on 10 May 1994 which provides information about payment performance in the financial year 1991 92, 1992 93 and 1993 94. Information for earlier years could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Provisional figures for the current financial year indicate a further improvement whereby 93 per cent. of payments were made on or before the due date. This is normally 30 days from receipt of goods/services or receipt of invoice, whichever is the later. A formal statement of payment performance for 1994 95, giving final figures, will be included in my Department's annual report to be published in March.
Mr. McMaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what advice he issues to the chairpersons and members of quangos, trusts, agencies and other bodies appointed by him as to the need for political independence in the public execution of their duties; what advice he issues to the chief executives of such bodies relating to political independence and the need to ensure rectitude in the exercise of their functions; when this advice was last given to the chairman, board members and chief executive of Scottish Homes; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Lang: There are long-standing rules on participation in political activities which members of public bodies are expected to observe and which are drawn to their attention on appointment. Additionally, a code of best practice for board members of public bodies was issued to executive non-departmental public bodies in Scotland, including Scottish Homes, in September 1994. Separate codes of conduct and accountability were issued to NHS bodies in Scotland, including NHS trusts, in April 1994. Nationalised industries and certain non-governmental trading bodies will normally apply the Cadbury code.
I do not issue specific advice to chief executives of non-departmental public bodies, most of whom are not appointed by me but by the board of the body concerned. However, those chief executives--including the chief executive of Scottish Homes--who are appointed accounting officers for their NDPBs receive a formal letter of designation from the departmental accounting officer setting out the responsibilities of an NDPB accounting officer. In some cases the contract of employment of a chief executive may cover political activities and the management statement of the body will cover the conduct of staff generally.
These arrangements do not apply to next steps agencies which operate within a different framework of accountability and control. Agency chief executives are
Column 769civil servants whose conduct is covered by the civil service pay and conditions code.
Mr. McMaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) how the additional borrowing consent allocated by him to (a) Renfrew district council and (b) Strathclyde regional council following the floods of December 1994 impact on their budgets for 1994 95; how will consent for general services borrowing impact on future years' revenue expenditure on loan debt charges; how additional housing borrowing consent for Renfrew district council will impact on future years' housing revenue account expenditure on loan debt charges; how the additional loan charges will be taken into account in allocations of aggregate external finance to each authority in future years; how this formula is likely to impact on(i) the council tax and (ii) the annual rent levels of chargepayers and tenants; how it will impact on successor unitary authorities; and if he will make a statement; (2) if he will define the concept of top-slicing as it is applied to the (a) capital and (b) revenue budgets of Scottish local authorities, in relation to the general services, specific services and housing services grants awarded to regional and district councils; how this concept will apply to the proposed unitary authorities; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Kynoch: Any additional borrowing required to fund the extra flood-related housing capital expenditure by Renfrew district council approved by my right hon. Friend will result in loan charges which will require to be met from income generated through the housing revenue account, primarily from rents. The precise impact will depend on the decisions taken by Renfrew district council in managing its housing debt which at 1 April 1994 totalled some £134.4 million. In accordance with the formula agreed with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, expenditure on loan charges arising from housing investment is taken into account as relevant expenditure when determining the amount and distribution of housing support grant. However, given that Renfrew district council's debt per house is well below the Scottish average and that the council has generated a healthy surplus on its housing revenue account in each of the last four years while holding rents below the Scottish average, it is unlikely that the council or its successor authority will qualify for housing support grant.
The impact of any additional borrowing to fund the extra flood related non- housing capital expenditure by Strathclyde regional council approved by my right hon. Friend will in the period up to 31 March 1996 be a matter for the council itself to determine. From 1 April 1996, the loan charges arising from any additional borrowing by the regional council will be taken into account in calculating the loan and leasing charges of its successor councils which are supported by aggregate external finance. The provision to support loan charges on borrowing to fund non-housing capital expenditure is effectively top-sliced from the AEF total.
Column 770under his progress in partnership policy; and if he will make a statement;
(2) if he will consider (a) the Johnstone/Elderslie area, (b) the Foxbar area of Paisley, (c) the south end of Paisley or (d) the Hunterhill/Lochfield Dykebar area of Paisley, or any part of those areas, as a priority partnership area under his progress in partnership policy; and if he will make a statement.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: Following the publication on 26 January 1995 of the Scottish urban regeneration policy statement, "Programme for Partnership", the Scottish Office plans further consultation on the implementation of the new proposals. A consultation paper on implementation arrangements will be circulated shortly to the bodies concerned and this will set out proposals on the way in which priority partnership areas will be selected. There will be a key role for local authorities and their regeneration partners in this process. As the consultation paper will focus on processes rather than the identification of areas, it is too early to say which areas will be designated as priority partnership areas. It is likely that the first such areas will be designated later this year.
Mr. McMaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will consider the (a) existing Renfrew district and/or (b) proposed Renfrewshire unitary authority for a city/district-wide initiative under his programme for partnership policy; and if he will make a statement.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: Following the publication on 26 January 1995, of the Scottish urban regeneration policy statement, "Programme for Partnership", The Scottish Office plans further consultation on the implementation of the new proposals. A consultation paper on implementation arrangements will be circulated shortly to the key bodies concerned and this will set out proposals on those areas which might be served by the city/district--wide partnerships proposed in the policy statement. Decisions on the areas in which the Scottish Office will encourage the formation of such partnerships will be taken in the light of the responses to this consultation paper and so it is too early to say where these will be. It is, however, open in any event to local authorities and other bodies to establish partnerships of this kind on their own initiative.
Mr. McMaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans his Department has to commemorate the bicentenary of the death of Robert Burns in 1996; how he intends to involve Burns clubs throughout the world in marking the year, and if he will make a statement.
Sir Hector Monro: My right hon. Friend has already campaigned successfully with others for the issue by the Royal Mail of a set of Burns commemorative postage stamps, and a number of bodies sponsored by the Scottish Office, such as the National library, museums and gallery and the Scottish tourist board, will play prominent roles in the staging and promotion of commemorative events in Scotland. A registered charity, Burns Festival Ltd. has been set up to co-ordinate a year-long Burns international festival focused on the south-west of Scotland and a comprehensive programme of activities is in the final stages of preparation. The world-wide network of Burns
Column 771clubs will make their own arrangements for marking their special anniversary, as will groups such as the Burns Federation, which among other events is planning a week of celebrations in Dumfries in July 1996.
Sir Russell Johnston: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if Highlands and Islands Enterprise operates discretionary training budgets in addition to its youth training and training for work programmes;
(2) what has been the level of spending by Highlands and Islands Enterprise on discretionary training outwith its youth training and training for work programmes in 1992 93, 1993 94 and 1994 95 to date.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 2 March 1995]: Apart from youth training and training for work, Highlands and Islands Enterprise operates a number of training schemes in pursuance of its obligation under the Enterprise and New Towns (Scotland) Act 1990 to assist persons to enhance skills which are relevant to employment in the Highlands and Islands.
Outturn expenditure by Highlands and Islands Enterprise on training-related programmes other than youth training, training for work and its predecessor employment training, in each year since 1992 93 is set out in the table:
£ million |1994-95 (to |end January Programme |1992-93 |1993-94 |1995) --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Enterprise training |0.833 |2.095 |1.118 Training and Education support |0.116 |0.166 |0.082 Business advisory services and skills training |5.130 |6.113 |3.736 Total |6.079 |8.374 |4.936
Mr. Spearing: To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) what letters she sent to selected hon. Members concerning the priority to be accorded to the Government's policy of expanding nursery education; what was the purpose of these letters; and what assessments she has made of the consequences from any request made therein;
(2) what advice she has sent by letter to members of local education authorities concerning their priorities in educational expenditure for the year 1995 96; and what priority Her Majesty's Government now give to the expansion of nursery education.
Mr. Forth: My right hon. Friend has not written to hon. Members or to local education authorities about the Government's policies for nursery education. She has however, written to her hon. Friends about local authority spending priorities in 1995 96. The letter invited Members to examine the priorities set by individual LEAs, in particular those which complain of pressures on budgets for the compulsory period of education. This must be their first priority, though in general there is no reason
Column 772why councils should be cutting discretionary nursery education. The Government remain committed to providing, over time, a pre-school place for all four-year-olds whose parents wish to take it up, making a start within the lifetime of this Parliament.
Mrs. Gorman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education if she will list those proposals for nursery classes in maintained or grant-maintained schools of which her Department has been informed since September 1991, showing in each case (a) whether they are for determination by her and (b) whether the proposals have been determined, approved and funded by her Department or implemented.
Sir Irvine Patnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Education if she will list for the core cities of Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds the percentage of under-fives in maintained nursery and primary schools; if she will list the equivalent figure for 1978; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Robin Squire: Information on pupils under five being taught in maintained nursery schools and primary schools in Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield local education authority areas is shown in the table.
Percentage of children under 5<1> in maintained nursery and primary schools in 1978 and 1994. Position in January each year Local education |1978 |1994 authority ---------------------------------------------------------------- Birmingham |38 |66 Leeds |20 |75 Liverpool |33 |87 Manchester |37 |73 Newcastle |61 |72 Sheffield |26 |63 <1> Numbers of pupils under five years of age expressed as a percentage of the estimated population aged three and four at 31 December in the previous year.
Mr. Wareing: To ask the Secretary of State for Education when she expects to make a decision on the proposal to provide a Christian primary school on the Croxteth country park estate in Liverpool; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Wareing: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what representations she has received about the future of Liverpool Community college; if she will institute an inquiry in to its management; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Boswell: Ministers have received six letters from three hon. Members this year about the future of Liverpool Community college. The hon. Member's letters covered representations from 21 students and/or college staff. In addition three letters from two other hon. Members and six letters from members of the public have been received about the proposed closure of the college's
Column 773higher national diploma course in theatre wardrobe. The Secretary of State sees no need for an inquiry into the management of the college.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how long on average is taken to produce special educational assessments for children who are disruptive at school; and what plans she has to accelerate the process.
Mr. Forth: Since September 1994 local education authorities have been required to complete special educational assessments within 10 weeks of giving notice to a child's parents of their decision to carry out an assessment. The Government have no present plans to change this requirement.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education if she will provide training and funds for schools to deal with children considered to be difficult; and what assessment she has made of the extent to which doing so would offset costs faced by other departments looking after these children.
Mr. Forth: Under the truancy and disaffected pupils programme of the grants for education support and training scheme, the Department is already making funds available both for the in-service training of teachers, and to establish and train LEA teams to support schools in their management of difficult and disruptive pupils. In 1994 95 the programme is supporting expenditure of £14 million on more than 80 locally devised projects in LEAs in England; in 1995 96 expenditure of £15.6 million on 90 projects will be supported.
The programme is being independently evaluated, and the lessons to be learnt will be made available to LEAs, schools and other interested parties.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what plans she has to liaise with her ministerial and local authority colleagues, to ensure a tighter framework to help troubled children; and what plans she has to use this framework to support the families of these children.
Joint guidance by my Department and the Department of Health on the education of children with emotional and behavioural difficulties was issued in May last year as part of the "Pupils with Problems" pack. The guidance highlighted the need for collaborative working between education, health and social services and the crucial need for establishing a partnership between parents and the schools. A copy of the pack is in the Library.
Mrs. Gorman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education on what date in each year since 1988 announcements were made for the subsequent financial year on (a) the level of each special purpose grant, (b) the determination of capital bids, (c) the invitation to submit capital bids, (d) the level of formula capital allocation, (e) the local management of schools add-on figure appropriate for each local education authority and (f) any other annual announcements relating to grant-maintained schools.
Mr. Forth: The regular cycle of four yearly Ofsted inspections will look, among other things, at each school's effectiveness in implementing the national curriculum, including the national curriculum for physical education, of which swimming is a part.
Mr. Blunkett: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many cases the Education Assets Board has dealt with since its inception; and if she will give in each case the two sides, indicating (i) the complainant, (ii) the disputed land and its value and (iii) the decision made and the successful side.
Mr. Robin Squire: I regret that the information is not available in the form requested. Since it began work in 1988, the Education Assets Board has completed the transfer of property, rights and liabilities from local authorities to 65 higher education corporations, 163 further education corporations and 489 grant maintained schools. The board is currently considering such transfers at 13 higher education corporations, 317 further education corporations and 568 grant-maintained schools.
Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many (a) men and (b) women applied for career breaks in her Department and its agencies; and how many have had their employment terminated in the last five years.
|Men |Women|Total ---------------------------------- 1990-1991 |4 |17 |21 1991-1992 |6 |17 |23 1992-1993 |8 |34 |42 1993-1994 |5 |39 |44 1994-1995 |11 |41 |52
Nine staff have had their employment terminated in the last five years.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Education if she will list the number of (a) applications, and (b) successful claims for (i) family credit and (ii) each of the other income-related benefits for each month since October 1994 in respect of parents claiming up to £40 child care cost which can be offset against earnings when claiming family credit and other income related benefits; if she will detail by each £10 the size of the child care costs offset; and if these data could be divided between two and one parent families.
Available information on family credit for the four-month period to 31 January 1995, the latest date for which figures are available, is set out in the tables. It does not include claims made by 31 January but decided after that date. Figures for individual months are not reliable at this level of disaggregation. Information is not available for disability working allowance, housing benefit or council tax benefit.
Family credit: Help with child care charges: number of families |Lone |parents|Couples|Total ---------------------------------------------------------- Families receiving higher family credit awards as a result of the help with childcare charges |10,200 |300 |10,500 Families not eligible because they did not satisfy the qualifying conditions |<1>- |<1>- |6,780 Families not receiving help with childcare charges because they were already receiving the maximum family credit<1> |<1>- |<1>- |2,380 <1>Notes: These families may receive help through housing benefit and council tax benefit.
Family credit: amount of child care charges offset against earnings Amount of child care |Number of charges offset |families<1> --------------------------------------------------------------- Up to £10 |1,620 £10.01-£20.00 |1,820 £20.10-£30.00 |2,000 £30.01-£40.00 |5,060<2> All cases |10,500 Notes: <1> Information broken down by lone parents and couples is not reliable at this level of desegregation. <2> Includes 3,300 families where child care charges were in excess of the £40 maximum offset. Source: Five per cent. sample of family credit awards made between 1 October 1994 and 31 January 1995.
It will take some time before the new help with child care charges takes full effect as existing family credit recipients can claim only the child care help when their current 26-week award expires, while many potential beneficiaries need to find work of 16 hours or more and to make appropriate child care arrangements.