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Bett Committee Report

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when the Government are proposing to publish the Bett Committee report on pay and conditions for staff in higher education. [85868]

Mr. Mudie: The pay and conditions of staff in higher education are a matter for the employers. The Independent Review of Higher Education Pay and Conditions--the Bett Committee--was set up by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) to look into the framework for determining pay and conditions of service in the higher education sector. The Review Committee will report to UCEA and it will be for the employers and unions to respond to any recommendations.

Tuition Fees

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what estimate he has made of the impact of student tuition fees on the recruitment of students aged (a) 18 to 21 and (b) over 21 years to university degree courses in England and Wales. [84429]

Mr. Mudie [holding answer 19 May 1999]: Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that, using statistical methods comparable to those used in 1997-98, for the 1998-99 academic year the number of home domiciled entrants to undergraduate courses aged under 21 was 216,949, and the number of entrants aged 21 and over was 188,678, respectively a 0.2 per cent. increase and a 0.8 per cent. decrease on 1997-98. These figures, which exclude entrants to Open University courses, indicate that recruitment has been steady over the period when the new tuition fee arrangements were introduced.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Armed Forces Bill

Mr. Key: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement on progress made with revision of the topics identified by the Law Commission in 1995 where consolidation was essential and very desirable in their memorandum to the committee on the Armed Forces Bill in 1996; what additional topics have been so identified since 1996; and if he will make a statement with regard to the recommendations of the report from the Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill (HC 143, Session 1995-96). [85898]

Mr. Vaz: Consolidation of legislation relating to the sentencing powers of criminal courts is well advanced and should be completed early in 2000; and consolidation of

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legislation relating to financial services was well advanced but has been suspended in view of the Government's proposals for reform in that area. No progress has yet been made on consolidation of legislation relating to road traffic regulation or Customs and Excise, and the legislation relating to taxes management is now a matter for the Tax Law ReWrite. The following additional topics have been identified since 1996: Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors; Audit Commission; Justices of the Peace; Petroleum; and Criminal Appeals. The consolidating legislation on the first four of these has now been passed. It remains the Government's intention to consolidate the Service Discipline Acts at the earliest opportunity.

Service Discipline Acts

Mr. Key: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many senior draftsmen have been employed on consolidation of legislation in respect of (a) the Service Discipline Acts and (b) other Acts in each year since 1991; and if he will make a statement. [85891]

Mr. Vaz: The numbers of senior Parliamentary Counsel seconded to the Law Commission employed on consolidation of legislation since 1991 are as follows:

YearArmed Forces legislationOther legislation
199212
199311
199401
199501
199612
199710
199810
199900

Mr. Key: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many Parliamentary Counsel are currently seconded to the Law Commission for purposes of consolidation bill drafting in connection with (a) the Army, Navy and Air Force Discipline Acts, (b) work on the next Armed Forces Bill and (c) other consolidation measures; and if he will make a statement. [85890]

Mr. Vaz: None of the Parliamentary Counsel currently seconded to the Law Commission was seconded specifically to work on consolidation; none is at present working on consolidation of legislation relating to the Armed Forces; and one is at present assigned to a consolidation of criminal appeals legislation.

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Mr. Key: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when Law Commission draftsmen commenced work on the consolidation of the Army, Air Force and Naval Discipline Acts; and when they will complete the consolidation. [85889]

Mr. Vaz: Work on this consolidation began at the Law Commission in November 1996. The consolidation is substantially complete, and the timetable for the remaining work will depend on the availability of Parliamentary time.

Children Act 1989

Ms Moran: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will introduce legislation to amend the Children Act 1989 to include a no-contact clause where there is evidence of domestic violence. [85007]

Mr. Vaz: The Government have no current plans to amend the Children Act 1989. The Act gives the court sufficient discretion to decide whether contact with a non-resident parent would be in the child's best interests, where domestic violence is an issue. The Government support the provision of training and guidance to judges and other family law professionals, to ensure that the statutory framework operates effectively.

National Minimum Wage

Mr. Rowlands: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many people in his Department and its associated bodies and agencies have benefited from the introduction of a national minimum wage. [86084]

Mr. Vaz: This reply covers the Headquarters of the Lord Chancellor's Department (with Associated Offices), the Court Service, the Public Trust Office, the Land Registry, the Public Record Office, the Northern Ireland Court Service and the Legal Aid Board.

102 staff (all casuals in the Court Service working outside London) have received pay increases as a result of the introduction of the National Minimum Wage on 1 April 1999.

Personal Injury Claims

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to consult on the calculation of future pecuniary loss in personal injury claims. [85713]

Mr. Vaz: The Government plan to issue a consultation paper on what rate might be set under Section 1 of the Damages Act to guide courts' decisions on the discount rate to be applied to lump sum awards. We anticipate using this consultation to invite views on alternatives to lump sum payments of compensation. Anyone who wishes to comment on arrangements for calculating future pecuniary loss may use this opportunity to do so.