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Live Firing Limits

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the 130 decibel live firing limit on Salisbury Plains was established; how this figure was arrived at; with whom it was agreed; how often it has been breached in the past year; how many complaints have been received about live firing in the past year; and from whom. [41181]

Mr. Spellar: My Department has observed a voluntary limit of 130 decibels for live firing on Salisbury Plain Training Area since 1984, except in certain areas where such a limit would have a serious impact on training. This figure was set at a level that would allow normal training to be undertaken, while preventing unreasonable disturbance to the local community.

It is not currently possible to measure every noise event on Salisbury Plain throughout the year, and so determine on how many occasions, if any, noise from live firing has exceeded 130 decibels. However, a detailed noise monitoring survey was carried out during Exercise IRON TORNADO, an artillery concentration on Salisbury Plain in September 1997, which showed that noise in residential areas around the Plain did not exceed 125 decibels during the four day exercise.

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Between 1 May 1997 and 30 April 1998, 45 complaints were made about the noise of live firing on Salisbury Plain, by local residents.

Hunting

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when he decided to rescind the licence of the Royal Artillery Hunt; what consultation he had with (a) the general staff at HQ Land Command, Wilton and (b) the Royal Artillery Hunt; and when he will relicense the hunt; [41180]

Mr. Spellar: Three multi-year licences have been rescinded since 1 May 1997 in accordance with our policy of harmonising the issue of all hunting licences across the Defence Estate; this process is due to complete by the end of the month. The licences rescinded so far covered the Royal Artillery Hunt, the Avon Vale Hunt, and the South Wiltshire Hunt. The policy of harmonisation was explained to the hunts concerned in the notices of cancellation. Applications for new licences for the 1998-99 season, incorporating standard terms and conditions, will be considered in August from those hunts who have traditionally held licences or enjoyed such rights.

EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

Schools

Mr. Dorrell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list for each local education authority in England (a) the number of maintained primary school places available, (b) the number of children attending maintained primary schools, (c) the number of maintained secondary school places available, (d) the number of children attending maintained secondary schools, (e) the proportion of available maintained primary school places which were unfilled and (f) the proportion of available maintained secondary school places which were unfilled for each of the last five years. [41178]

Mr. Byers: The information for the years 1994-1997, is given in tables, copies of which I have placed in the Library. Data for earlier years were not collected.

Science Subjects

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans he has to increase the number of school students taking science subjects. [41159]

Ms Estelle Morris: The National Curriculum ensures that all pupils, from the age of 5 to 16, study science as a core subject. Our aim is to encourage post-16 students to study more subjects, including the sciences. The Government's recently announced response to the Qualifying for Success consultation will further encourage students to pursue broader studies post-16, while maintaining rigour and standards. Proposals include a new style AS qualification, which represents

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the first year of a full A level and smaller Advanced GNVQ programmes (including GNVQs in science and engineering).

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what representations he has received from parental support groups, LEAs and schools in response to the consultation document, Excellence for All Children: Meeting Special Education Needs, with specific reference to children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. [41209]

Ms Estelle Morris: The Department received some 3,600 responses to the special educational needs Green Paper. A very small number focused on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Respondents commented on the need for better identification of the disorder and appropriate medical and educational intervention. Our response to the Green Paper consultation exercise will set out how we will improve provision for all children with special educational needs.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what evaluation he has made of the possibility of screening children excluded from school for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. [41197]

Ms Estelle Morris: Schools and local education authorities are under a duty to identify children's special educational needs and, where necessary, assess for a statement of need. Local education authorities' behaviour support plans should include information about local arrangements for establishing whether behavioural difficulties, including those which may lead to exclusion, stem from underlying medical conditions.

Drug Education

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how much has been allocated for drug misuse education programmes in schools in each of the last five years. [40945]

Ms Estelle Morris: The Department made specific central support available to local education authorities for drug prevention and education work through the Grants for Education Support and Training (GEST) programme from 1995-96. Approximately £6 million was made available to support LEAs' drug education initiatives, including teacher training and innovative projects, each year up to 1997-98. Increased support of £7 million is being made available this financial year, through the Standards Fund programme, to assist primary and secondary schools and the youth service in delivering effective education about drugs. Other programmes in schools may be financed locally or from other sources.

Education Funding, Essex

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, pursuant to his oral statement of 8 April 1998, Official Report, column 351, if he will provide an extra £3.5 million for education in Essex. [40661]

Mr. Byers: As my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has made clear, Essex's education SSA for 1998-99 is some £497 million--an increase of some

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£27 million, or 5.8 per cent. The Government have no plans to reward the County Council with extra resources for failing to use all of this increase to support Essex schools.

Literacy Strategy

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what consultations his Department held with external bodies, apart from the Literacy Task Force, on the literacy strategy prior to publication of that strategy; and if he will list those bodies. [40758]

Mr. Byers: The Department itself did not consult on the National Literacy Strategy. The Literacy Task Force had already consulted very widely before publishing its final recommendations for the strategy, which the Government accepted in full.

School Inspections

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many Ofsted inspections took place in schools in England and Wales during 1997. [40928]

Mr. Byers: During 1997, 7,492 schools in England were inspected in accordance with section 10 of the School Inspections Act 1996. In addition, 165 schools were inspected as part of the pilot reviews of local education authorities, aspects of education were inspected in 2,419 schools (including 484 independent schools), and HM Inspectors conducted around 750 inspections of schools which required special measures. The Chief Inspector for Wales is responsible for the inspection of schools in Wales.

Teachers (Study Support)

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment whether discretionary payment will be available to teachers who undertake study support activities where those activities are funded from the school's delegated budget. [40995]

Mr. Byers: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced on 30 March, following consultation on his proposals in response to the Seventh Report of the School Teachers' Review Body, that he had decided that, with effect from 1 September 1998, discretionary payment should be available for teachers who undertake out of school hours learning activity. Schools are free to use their delegated budgets towards such activity.


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