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Teacher Competencies

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, pursuant to his answer of 28 January 2000, Official Report, columns 386-87W, on teacher competencies, (a) how the proposed standards for teachers wishing to cross the proposed new performance threshold will be determined and (b) when the Hay McBer report will be considered. [108423]

Ms Estelle Morris: The standards for the performance threshold will be determined by the Secretary of State in the light of comments from School Teachers' Review Body consultees. A draft was proposed in the technical consultation document on pay and performance management, published in February 1999. It is being further developed in the light of responses received during the consultation on the technical consultation document and in the light of research by Hay McBer into the characteristics of effective teaching. Recommendations about the performance threshold standards were an early output of that research.

DfEE expects to receive the final report from Hay McBer on the characteristics of effective teaching at the end of February 2000. The full report will look at the characteristics of effective teaching at different stages of the profession, including post-induction and Advanced Skills Teacher. DfEE will want to consider, with the profession, how this framework might be used to support teachers' continuing professional development.

Standard Spending Assessments

Mr. Ashdown: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what is his estimate of (a) primary school per pupil standard spending assessments and (b) secondary school per pupil standard spending assessments for each English county for each of the years 1990-91 to 2000-01 in real terms using 1998-99 prices; and if in each case he will rank these from highest to lowest per pupil expenditure. [107787]

Ms Estelle Morris: I will place tables in the Library that give the figures requested for the 34 Upper Tier Authorities 1 based on the final Standard Spending Assessment allocations for 1990-91 to 2000-01. These have not been adjusted for any changes in local authority function over the years and may not be directly comparable due to the effects of local government reorganisation.

Mr. Ashdown: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) what plans he has to review the levels of (a) primary school and (b) secondary school standard spending assessments across English counties; and if he will make a statement; [107788]

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Ms Estelle Morris: The Government are well aware that there is widespread concern about the fairness of the current formula for funding local authorities. The Government announced in November 1998 a review in partnership with local government to look for a way of distributing revenue support grant which is simpler, more stable, more robust and fairer than the present arrangements for Standard Spending Assessments. The Government will be issuing a Green Paper on options for change by the Summer.

School Funding (Somerset)

Mr. Ashdown: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many bids have been received from schools in Somerset since 1 May 1997 for all centrally allocated spending, classified as (a) capital funding, (b) Standards Fund funding and (c) other funding; how many of such bids have been (i) successful and (ii) unsuccessful; and if he will make a statement. [107789]

Ms Estelle Morris: Centrally allocated funds, including the Standards Fund and funding for capital work, are usually distributed on a formula basis or as a result of bids from Local Education Authorities, not via bids from individual maintained schools. Non-maintained special schools can bid directly for capital grant, but there are no such schools in Somerset. Until March 1999 grant maintained schools bid to the Funding Agency for Schools (FAS) for capital grants on a rolling programme. Between May 1997 and March 1999, 13 bids from grant maintained schools located in Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset were successful. The FAS maintained no record of the number of unsuccessful bids. Schools in Somerset have also led two successful bids for setting up Education Action Zones.

Teacher Redundancies

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many teacher redundancies in maintained schools there were (a) during the academic year 1999-2000 and (b) in the previous five academic years. [108314]

Ms Estelle Morris: The number of teacher premature retirements on the grounds of redundancy 1 from the maintained nursery, primary, secondary and special sector in England and Wales by financial year 2 is in the table:


(10) Data on teachers taking severance on the grounds of redundancy are not held centrally.

(11) Data for 1998-99 and 1999-2000 are not available.

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Educational Achievement

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what proportion of the working-age population had a qualification in (a) 1998 and (b) 1999. [108350]

Mr. Wicks: The proportion of the working age population in the United Kingdom to have any qualification, as measured by the Labour Force Survey, was 82.1 per cent. in 1998 and 82.9 per cent. in 1999.



Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his estimate of the number of children (a) from the Indian sub-continent and (b) from the rest of the world wrongly refused settlement by his Department on the basis of not being related as claimed, who are now able to prove their relationship through DNA testing. [107293]

Mrs. Roche: I regret that there is no reliable way of assessing the numbers of such children, who were refused entry clearance in good faith on the evidence available at the time.

Mr. Rouea Gargan

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will conduct an investigation into his Department's loss of Mr. Rouea Gargan's passport, ref. G1008833. [107053]

Mrs. Roche: I am very sorry that Mr. Gargan's passport appears to have been lost. Several searches have been conducted by the Integrated Casework Directorate (ICD) in an effort to locate Mr. Gargan's passport and documents. The ICD will continue to search for them and if they are recovered in the short term, his passport will be endorsed and returned to him. The issue of compensation in connection with his replacement documents will be addressed as soon as possible.

In the meantime, Mr. Gargan has now been issued with a letter facilitating his readmission to the United Kingdom.

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will reply to the correspondence of 18 August 1999 and 22 November 1999 from the hon. Member for Torbay regarding Mr. Rouea Gargan, a constituent; and if he will make a statement. [107055]

Mrs. Roche: I wrote to the hon. Member today. I am sorry for the delay.

Credit Ratings

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the credit rating of companies seeking to tender for services provided by his Department is checked before the contract is awarded. [107742]

Mr. Straw: In assessing a company's capability for providing services to the Department over the period of a contract, its financial status and background will be checked using information which will include latest

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audited accounts and other relevant published details such as credit and debt rating. These checks are undertaken on contracts where early termination would place a financial and operational risk on the Department.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how often the credit rating of companies supplying services to his Department is checked. [107748]

Mr. Straw: Once a contract has been let, the Department will carry out checks only if it has reason to believe that any of its contractors may be in financial difficulty.

Freedom of Information

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the proportion of freedom of information requests for information which will be turned down because of the cost; and if he will make a statement. [108085]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Under the Freedom of Information Bill, a fee may be charged by a public authority, in accordance with regulations made by the Secretary of State. The regulations will set an 'appropriate limit', whereby if the cost of complying with the request exceeds that limit they would be exempt from that obligation under clause 11 of the Bill. These regulations are currently being prepared and it is intended that they will be circulated in draft as soon as possible. However, without pre-empting the regulations the Government's view have been that the 'appropriate limit' should be the same as the £500 threshold for disproportionate costs which currently applies to parliamentary questions. It is not possible to make accurate projections of the number of requests that will fall outside this limit at this stage. However, I am confident that the percentage of cases where the exemption is claimed and the applicant refused will be very small.

It is, of course, possible that this threshold would be exceeded on occasions where, for example, an application required a significant amount of work on the part of the authority in drawing the information together. In such circumstances, the authority would still be required to consider the disclosure of the information, under clause 13 of the Bill, if to do so would be in the public interest. Therefore, even if the 'appropriate limit' is exceeded, it is still possible, because of the nature of the information, that it will be disclosed.

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