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Teachers' Pensions

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when the consultation on teachers' pensions will be completed; and when the Government's decision will be published. [573]

Mr. Byers: The consultation period ends on 9 June. My right hon. Friend will take and announce decisions after that date.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when he plans to meet the teacher unions to discuss reform of the teachers' superannuation scheme. [572]

Mr. Byers: I plan to meet the teacher unions shortly to discuss a variety of subjects. My right hon. Friend will decide in due course on a timetable for the review of the teachers' superannuation scheme and on how and when to seek the views of the teacher unions on that particular topic.

International Labour Organisation

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government concerning changes in the voting system at the International Labour Organisation; and if he will make a statement. [500]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Government are not aware that there are any proposals to change the voting system at the ILO. Any proposals to change the system would need to be considered by the ILO's Governing Body.

Assisted Places

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list those schools which currently have assisted places indicating the number of places currently held by assisted places pupils. [506]

Mr. Byers: I am placing in the Library of the House a list of the 355 schools in England participating in the assisted places scheme in the current academic year 1996-97 showing the number of assisted place holders at each school.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list those schools which will be offering assisted places from 1 September indicating the number of places being offered. [508]

Mr. Byers: I am placing in the Library of the House a list of the 481 schools in England which will be offering assisted places from 1 September 1997 showing the number of entry places available at each school.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what is the estimated cost to public funds of the assisted places scheme for the financial year 1997-98. [509]

Mr. Byers: Planned expenditure on the scheme in England in financial year 1997-98 is £140 million.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if she will list those schools

20 May 1997 : Column: 33

currently participating in the music and ballet assisted places scheme, indicating the number of places currently held by pupils under the scheme. [507]

Mr. Byers: The information requested is given in the following table:

Music and ballet aided pupil scheme: Academic year 1996-97

Name of schoolNumber of aided pupils
Chetham's School of Music, Manchester257
The Purcell School of Music, Harrow95
Wells Cathedral School, Somerset70
Yehudi Menuhin School, Cobham34
The Royal Ballet School, London173
Elmhurst Ballet School, Camberley10
Arts Educational School, Tring5

DUCHY OF LANCASTER

Property Services Agency

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what is his Department's estimate of the annual cost to the Property Services Agency of renting Archway tower, Junction road, London N19; and what plans he has to reduce this cost. [510]

Dr. David Clark: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated under the terms of its framework document to the Property Advisers to the Civil Estate (PACE) under its Chief Executive, Mr. Malcolm Bowles. The Agency is therefore responding to this question.

Letter from M. H. Bowles to Mr. Jeremy Corbyn, dated 19 May 1997:

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has asked me, as acting Chief Executive of PACE, to reply to your question about Archway Tower, Junction Road, N.19.


Food Standards Agency

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what action he proposes to take in respect of Professor Philip James' report into the establishment of an independent food standards agency; and if he will make a statement. [955]

20 May 1997 : Column: 34

Dr. David Clark: Professor James' report was published on 8 May, and welcomed by the Prime Minister as an excellent foundation upon which the Government could build. The Prime Minister added that we need to create a structure that is open and transparent, and which acts--and is seen to act--in the interests of consumers.

The Prime Minister has established a new Ministerial Group on Food Safety, which I will chair, to take forward Professor James' proposals. Members will include Ministers from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Department of Health, the Cabinet Office, the Scottish Office, the Welsh Office and the Northern Ireland Office. As a first step the Government are consulting widely on Professor James' Report. Consultees have been invited to send their comments to the Cabinet Office by 20 June.

Copies of the Report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will be responsible for preparing a White Paper and the necessary legislation. He will be doing this in close consultation with the Secretary of State for Health and in accordance with the conclusions of the Ministerial Committee. The Minister has already taken steps to ensure greater openness in the working practices of MAFF and more responsiveness to the needs of the public.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people held under immigration law at HMP Winson Green began a hunger strike on 7 May; and how many are still refusing food. [166]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Two immigration detainees refused food at Her Majesty's Prison Winson Green on 7 May and were joined by a further nine on 8 May. Eight detainees were still refusing prison prepared meals at 10:00 hrs on 19 May, although all are taking fluids. I am told that none of them is giving the prison medical officer cause for concern.

Police Complaints Authority

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what new appointments have been made to the Police Complaints Authority. [956]

Mr. Straw: Mrs. Linda Allan and Ms Lorna Whyte have accepted invitations to serve as Members of the Police Complaints Authority made in late 1996 by my predecessor as Secretary of State, the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard). Mrs. Allan previously served as Head of Networks and Faculty Support with the Royal College of General Practitioners. Ms Whyte was formerly a community relations consultant with the Home Office. They both took up their posts on 6 May. The term of the appointments is three years.

Criminal Cases Review Commission

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received

20 May 1997 : Column: 35

regarding resources available to the Criminal Cases Review Commission; and if he will consider increasing the number of members appointed to serve on its board. [153]

Mr. Michael [holding answer 19 May 1997]: My Department has had extensive discussions with the Criminal Cases Review Commission on a range of issues relating to its establishment, including the resources it needs. There are no plans at present to increase the number of members appointed to the Commission, but this will be considered if it seems desirable in the light of experience.

We have previously expressed considerable concern at the delay in setting up the Commission and hope the Commission itself will wish to inject a greater sense of urgency into the review of these cases and will keep the work of the Commission under close scrutiny.


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