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Language Schools

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) how much funding was given by his Department to supplementary language schools in England and Wales in each year since 1992 and 1993; [113655]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 9 March 2000]: Supplementary language schools are independent community-based educational initiatives in England and are not directly funded by the DfEE. These schools fall outside of the immediate responsibility of this Department for monitoring and quality control.

The DfEE will be setting up a Supplementary School Support Service by tender later this year. The primary responsibility for this service will be to develop the capacity for supplementary schools to improve the educational achievement of minority ethnic pupils in National Curriculum subject areas.

The Study Support Team of the Schools Plus Division, Schools Directorate of the DfEE has assisted with some funding towards a publication called "A Directory of Supplementary and Mother-tongue Classes 1999-2000".

I refer my hon. Friend to the Welsh Assembly for the element of his question relating to Wales.

Voluntary Aided Schools

Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what action is being taken to ensure VAT does not have to be levied on basic capital approval borrowing by voluntary aided schools. [113448]

Jacqui Smith: The responsibility for premises work at voluntary aided schools is shared between school governing bodies and their local education authorities. The Department provides grant support at up to 85 per cent. for school governing bodies to help them meet the costs arising from their responsibilities for approved building work, including VAT. The Department does not provide basic capital approval borrowing direct to voluntary aided schools, although these schools can apply to the Department for loans to meet their share of the cost of premises work, including VAT.

Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the capital requirements of voluntary aided Anglican schools. [113447]

Jacqui Smith: Local education authorities apply to the Department each year for capital funding for voluntary aided schools as part of the Annual Capital Guidelines

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process. The applications include proposals for funding premises work at Anglican voluntary aided schools. They are prioritised locally by authorities, and are then assessed by the Department against the funding criteria and to ensure that the proposals represent value for money.

For 2000-01, £158 million has been allocated for capital and repair work at voluntary aided schools, including almost £26 million to be devolved direct to schools under Formula Capital arrangements. The total funding represents an increase of some 15 per cent. compared with 1999-2000, even after allowing for the 306 former grant maintained schools which joined the voluntary aided sector on 1 September 1999.

Tuition Charges

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will publish in tabular form mandatory tuition charges and contributions falling on students for (a) English students studying in England, (b) English students studying in Scotland and (c) Scottish students studying in England; and what is the net present cost of such charges on a standardised basis. [112122]

Mr. Wicks [holding answer 28 February 2000]: The table sets out the maximum tuition fee payable in 1999-2000 through public or private contributions in respect of home and other EU domiciled higher education students at publicly funded institutions across the United Kingdom. Only those students falling under the new funding arrangements (introduced in 1998) are required to make a private contribution.

Maximum tuition fees in academic year 1999-2000

Full-time undergraduate and PGCE courses1,025
Sandwich year-out and part-time courses of initial teacher training510

The amount of fee payable through private contributions depends on the students' residual family income. Up to £17,370 no contributions are expected, thereafter contributions increase on a sliding scale from £45, and at residual income of £27,800 the maximum fee is payable.


Mineworkers' Pension Scheme

Mr. Illsley: To ask the Prime Minister what proposals the Government have for the division of the surplus in the mineworkers' pension scheme. [113256]

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The Prime Minister: Under the agreement made between the Government and the coal pension scheme trustees in 1994, the Government guarantee inflation linked pensions and receive 50 per cent. of any declared surplus in exchange. Already the Government have covered earlier deficits and additional contributions of £400 million. The Government have received no representations from trustees for changing the division of surplus but the DTI are exploring with the trustees the scope for building upon the success achieved to date in terms of benefits for pensions.

Official Engagements

Sir Peter Tapsell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 15 March. [114182]

The Prime Minister: This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House I will have further such meetings later today.

Lord Levy

Mr. Maude: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 22 February 2000, Official Report, column 852W, (1) with which Israeli political figures Lord Levy has held talks on behalf of the Prime Minister or in pursuit of British interests in the Middle East; [112511]

The Prime Minister: Lord Levy has frequent contact with leading Israelis, including Prime Minister Barak and other politicians. Lord Levy last saw Prime Minister Barak on 5 February. From time to time, he has passed on oral messages from me.

Mr. Baker: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 22 February 2000, Official Report, column 852W, on Lord Levy, if the development of bilateral relationships includes discussion in respect of possible defence contracts. [112930]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 7 March 2000]: Lord Levy has not discussed prospective defence contracts.

Mr. Baker: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 22 February 2000, Official Report, column 852W, on Lord Levy, if the discussions in furtherance of the Prime Minister's support for the Peace Process, held by Lord Levy when visiting Israel in a private capacity, were held at the specific request of the Prime Minister. [112931]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 7 March 2000]: Lord Levy conveys oral messages on my behalf from time to time. He therefore liaises closely with me and the Foreign Secretary.


Mr. Field: To ask the Prime Minister what guidance he has (a) given and (b) intends to give to civil servants on their involvement with organisations campaigning for and against the single currency. [113613]

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The Prime Minister [holding answer 9 March 2000]: Guidance to civil servants on contacts, in an official capacity, with outside interest groups is set out in "Guidance for Civil Servants: Contacts with Lobbyists". Guidance to civil servants on their private activities, including their involvement, in a private capacity, in political activities is set out in the "Civil Service Code" and the "Civil Service Management Code". Copies of these documents are available from the Library.


Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will acquire a copy of John Pilger's film on Iraq, broadcast on 6 March, for the library of No. 10 Downing street. [114586]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 14 March 2000]: No.


EU Law Enforcement

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans the Government have to propose measures (a) in and (b) outside the intergovernmental conference to improve enforcement of EU law. [113609]

Mr. Vaz: We have long advocated a strong and efficient European Court of Justice, and support the inclusion of ECJ reform in the discussions at this IGC. The ECJ itself has put forward ideas to improve its efficiency and reduce delays. Some do not require Treaty change and are already being discussed in the Council. But some will require Treaty change, for example, a move to qualified majority voting for deciding on the Court's rules of procedure. A 'Friends of the Presidency' group has been set up at the IGC to look at these and other proposals.

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