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School Premises

Mr. Blunkett: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if she will make a statement on the safeguards against overcrowding contained in the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1996. [21306]

Mrs Gillan: Regulation 17(3) requires that every part of a school building shall be such that the health, safety and welfare of the occupants shall be reasonably assured. Further to this, regulation 7 requires that the buildings provided for a school shall be adequate to permit the safe and convenient passage of persons and movement of goods within the buildings.

The new regulations will not require any school to take on more pupils: local authorities and school governors will continue to have exactly the same powers over admissions as they do now.

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what research she has commissioned into the impact of the private finance initiative on higher education institutions. [21310]

Mr. Forth: My right hon. Friend has set up a small expert group with the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, the Standing Conference of Principals and others to consider the private finance initiative in higher education.

Mature Students

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what are the Government's targets for the participation rate of mature students in higher education by 2000. [21312]

Mr. Forth: The number of mature entrants has increased by 160 per cent. since 1979 and there are now more mature than young people entering higher education. The Government welcome this increase but have not set any targets for the level of participation among mature students.

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many mature female students entered higher education institutions in each academic year from 1985-86 to 1995-96. [21313]

Mr. Forth: The available information is given in the following table:

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Home full-time mature(9) female entrants to higher education
England

Academic yearNumbers
1985-8620,548
1986-8722,268
1987-8823,723
1988-8926,467
1989-9029,825
1990-9133,024
1991-9241,936
1992-9351,992
1993-9456,502
1994-9557,745

(9) Those aged 21 and over on an undergraduate course, and those aged 25 and over on a postgraduate course.


Higher Education (Student to Staff Ratio)

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what was the average student to staff ratio in higher education for each year from 1985-86 to 1995-96. [21314]

Mr. Forth: Information on the student-staff ratio in higher education institutions in England for the academic years 1990-91 to 1993-94, the latest available, are as follows:


Information on the same basis for earlier years is not available.

Higher Education Funding Council for England

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) how many bids were received by HEFCE in response to circular 17/95; which institutions submitted bids; for what sums; and for what reasons the process was terminated in December 1995; [21316]

Mr. Forth: These are matters for the Higher Education Funding Council for England. I have asked the chief executive to write to the hon. Member with the details.

Key Stage 2 Testing

Mr. Blunkett: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when he plans to publish the consultation paper on testing at key stage 2. [21304]

Mr. Paice: The Department published a consultation paper on the review of assessment and testing at key stages 1 to 3 on 25 January 1996. We intend to issue a separate consultation paper on key stage 2 performance tables in due course.

School Admissions Policy

Mr. Blunkett: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when he plans to publish the

19 Mar 1996 : Column: 123

results of the consultation on increasing schools' flexibility to admit pupils on the basis of aptitude or ability. [21305]

Mrs. Gillan: A summary of comments on the draft circular on school admissions, together with an analysis of responses to the consultation note on deregulating GM schools' admission arrangements, will be placed in the Library in due course.

Higher Education (Professors)

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what was the average salary paid to professors in higher education in each academic year from 1985-86 to 1995-96 broken down by gender. [21311]

Mr. Forth: This information is not held centrally.

DEFENCE

Arms and Military Equipment (Exports)

Sir David Steel: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to present an annual statement to Parliament on the implementation of Government policy with regard to the export of arms and military equipment; and if he will make a statement. [21245]

Mr. Arbuthnot: We have no current plans for such an annual statement but, as I informed the hon. Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) on 11 March, Official Report, column 451, my Department will take the lead in the review of the convention on the disclosure of information about defence exports.

Executive Action

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list those areas of executive action where he has discretion to act in respect of an individual without giving reasons for his decision. [20545]

Mr. Soames: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Works of Art

Mrs. Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which former Minister was presented with a reproduction of "A View of the Admiralty" in 1994; and what was the value of the reproduction. [20829]

Dr. John Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) who provided the valuation of the photographic reproduction of "A View of the Admiralty" given by his Department's staff to a Minister as a leaving gift in 1994; and what was that valuation; [20907]

Mr. Arbuthnot: Senior civil servants in my Department presented the reproduction "A View of the Admiralty" to my right hon. Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell (Sir A. Hamilton) on his departure from

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the post of Minister of State for the Armed Forces in 1993. The Department's registrar assessed the reproduction as having only nominal value, a judgment confirmed by the Government art collection. The officers concerned contributed £70 to the Department's funds.

Mrs. Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to put his Department's art collection on public display. [20837]

Mr. Arbuthnot: Twenty-seven of my Department's most important works of art are on permanent display at the National Maritime Museum. My Department is receptive to requests from exhibition organisers and works have been loaned on occasions to temporary exhibitions. One work will be displayed in London in April and four will be shown in Manchester during the summer.

Competitive Tendering (Contracts)

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many contracts for goods or services have been awarded in each of the last three financial years by his Department and its executive agencies after competitive tendering; and what was the total combined value of these contracts. [21031]

Mr. Arbuthnot: My Department publishes each year in table 1.14 of "UK Defence Statistics", a copy of which is in the Library of the House, details of numbers and values of contracts placed by headquarters contract branches broken down by procurement route and pricing mechanism. A breakdown of these details by individual agencies could be produced only at disproportionate cost. The figures in table 1.14 exclude contracts placed by the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency and the Meteorological Office since their inception and I have asked the chief executives of those agencies to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from J. Chisholm to Mr. Brian Donohoe, dated 18 March 1996:


19 Mar 1996 : Column: 125

Letter from J. C. R. Hunt to Mr. Brian Donohoe, dated 18 March 1996.



    I am replying as Chief Executive of the Meterological Office to your Question to the Secretary of State for Defence about the number of contracts let my competitive tender in each of the last three financial years.
    Unfortunately the information could only be produced at disproportionate costs, although naturally as an Agency of the Ministry of Defence we follow the Department's policy on competitive tendering. I am sorry that I cannot be more helpful.


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