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EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

European History

Sir Russell Johnston: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what action she proposes to take in response to recommendation 1283 (1996) of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe on history and the learning of history in Europe; and if she will make a statement. [31433]

Mr. Forth: The Government make the recommendation, much of which is reflected in the national curriculum. My officials, together with members of Ofsted and the Schools Curriculum and Assessment Authority will continue to contribute to the Council of Europe's meetings and projects on history teaching in Europe.

School Inspections

Mr. Blunkett: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) what representations have been received (a) for and (b) against a six-yearly cycle

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of school inspections during the consultation on future inspection arrangements; when the results will be published; and if she will make a statement; [31017]

Mr. Robin Squire: Her Majesty's chief inspector is currently consulting educational interests on future inspection arrangements. Once I have his advice on the outcome, I will make a further statement.

Disability Discrimination Act 1995

Mr. Riddick: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what conclusions she has reached following the recent public consultation on an employment code of practice and employment regulations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995; and if she will make a statement. [32063]

Mr. Paice: Over 670 replies were received from organisations and individuals by the close of the consultation period at the end of March. This was a welcome and helpful response.

Most respondents considered that the draft code could be improved in the way it gave guidance on the employment provisions in the Act and helped employers avoid discrimination in all areas of employment. There was also a great deal of support for the code to contain more illustrative examples. Although most respondents considered that the length of the draft was about right, the constructive comments they, and others, made could not be taken into account without substantial revision.

We have therefore arranged to lay before Parliament today a redrafted code of practice relating to the elimination of discrimination in the field of employment against disabled people and people who have had a disability. The code includes many illustrative examples and significant additional guidance about the employment provisions of the Act, as well as information about how complaints might be made and how to seek further information, and a comprehensive index. It should now meet the needs of organisations of all sizes covered by the Act's employment provisions.

The proposals for employment regulations were supported by a majority of those who expressed a view and only minor changes have been needed to deal with some issues which were identified during the consultation process. As a result, we have also laid before Parliament today the Disability Discrimination (Employment) Regulations 1996.

The consultation exercise also sought views on two issues for which we made no proposals for regulations but were interested in opinions about the merit of possible change. One issue was the setting of a financial cap for making a reasonable adjustment. A clear majority of those who expressed a view were not in favour of a cap, and the Department is not proposing to introduce one when employment provisions are commenced.

The other issue was whether the duty of reasonable adjustment should apply to aspects of physical features of buildings or extensions which meet the British standard 5810.

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A clear majority of those who expressed a view considered it should apply and we do not propose to introduce regulations on this issue. Therefore no aspect of a building will be exempted from the duty of reasonable adjustment simply because it meets BS5810.

We have decided that the employment provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 will commence on 2 December 1996. The draft code of practice and the Disability Discrimination (Employment) Regulations 1996 will also commence on that date, subject to completion of the parliamentary procedure. The code will be published as soon as possible to give employers and others affected by the employment provisions time to take account of its guidance.

A statistical analysis of the responses to the consultation is being placed in the Library.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Schoolteachers (Qualifications)

Mr. Robert McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to his answer of 1 May, Official Report, column 552, where he stated that 198 Irish schoolteachers had their qualifications recognised in Great Britain under EU rules in 1993-94, what assessment he has made of the number of recognitions cited in the European Commission's recent report on the implementation of the professional qualifications directive; and if he will make a statement. [31122]

Mr. Ancram: The 1,277 recognitions relate to the cumulative total for England and Wales since directive 89/48/EEC was implemented, whereas the 198 recognitions refer to 1993-94 and include Scotland.

School Transport

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) by how much school transport costs have risen in (a) cash, (b) real price and (c) percentage terms since the Government adopted a policy of open enrolment; [31030]

Mr. Ancram: Between the introduction of open enrolment policy in 1990 and March 1995--1994-95 is the latest year for which actual expenditure is available--net expenditure on school transport has risen by some 50 per cent. from £23.2 million in 1990-91 to £34.7 million. The equivalent figures in constant price terms are £26.4 million and £34.7 million respectively reflecting an increase of approximately 31 per cent. Separate costs are not readily available for primary, secondary, further and special needs sectors of education and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the principal factors underlying the change in school transport costs in the last five years. [31032]

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Mr. Ancram: The principal factors are an increase in the total school population, an increase in the proportion of pupils attending schools beyond statutory walking distance and an increase in the cost of provision of such transport.

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will publish a breakdown of current education transport costs by made of transport. [31033]

Mr. Ancram: The latest year for which actual expenditure is available is 1994-95 and the information is as follows:

£ million
Education and Library Board Vehicles9.2
Public Transport19.9
Taxi Services3.8
Other1.8
Total34.7

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to what extent the rise in education transport costs is due to increases in charges by transport companies. [31034]

Mr. Ancram: Increases in charges by public transport providers account for approximately 21 per cent. of the total cost increases for school transport in the period 1990-91 to 1994-95.

Education Funding

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list his allocation of resources to each of the education and library boards in the current financial year; and what percentage increase this constitutes over the 1995 allocation in constant price terms. [31035]

Mr. Ancram: The total allocation to the education and library boards for 1996-97 is £963.3 million, an increase of 0.6 per cent. at constant prices over the allocations initially provided for 1995-96. Individual board allocations have not yet been finalised as the 1996-97 figure includes £28.5 million which is earmarked for specific purposes, and has not yet been distributed among the five boards. I will write to the hon. Member later in the year when directly comparable allocation figures are available.

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will state his allocation of resources to the schools which he directly funds; and what percentage increase this constitutes over the 1995 allocation in constant price terms. [31036]

Mr. Ancram: The information requested for the financial years 1995-96 and 1996-97 is set out in the table.

1996-97Percentage increase
£(constant prices)
Voluntary grammar schools113,696,0001.47
Grant maintained integrated schools
Primary4,366,00016.43
Secondary7,266,00030.36

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The 1996-97 figures for grant maintained integrated schools take account of three new secondary schools and one new primary school and increased enrolments in existing schools.


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