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Early-years Education

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what estimate he has made of the additional costs of making early-years education freely available to all three-year-olds; and if he will make a statement. [127505]

Ms Hodge [holding answer 27 June 2000]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 1 March 2000, Official Report, column 314W.

Disabled Access

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what assessment he has made of SCOPE's report on disability access entitled "Left Out"; and what action he is taking to encourage employers (a) to comply with the requirements of Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and (b) to accept the business case for disabled access. [127597]

Ms Hodge [holding answer 27 June 2000]: The Government have seen a draft copy of the report on SCOPE's Left Out campaign and we will consider it after it is launched on 3 July.

The Government are taking a number of steps to encourage service providers to comply with the requirements of Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) and accept the business case for disabled access. On 29 June 1999, we published a Code of Practice

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which explains the duties under Part III and gives practical guidance on implementation. On 1 October last year, to coincide with further rights under Part III coming into force, we published an information booklet called "An Introduction for Small and Medium-sized Businesses". This explains the duties businesses and organisations have under Part III.

On 1 October 2004, the final stage of rights under Part III of the DDA will come into force. From then, in addition to their current duties, service providers will have to take reasonable steps to tackle physical features which make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use a service. On 8 May 2000 the Government and the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) launched a joint consultation exercise on a revised version of the Part III Code, a Practical Guide for service providers and the Government's proposals for a small number of Regulations under the Act. The consultation documents have been sent to a wide range of businesses and organisations. The exercise will last for three months. The DRC will consider the views expressed in the consultation before preparing final versions of the Code and Guide.

The DRC also has a part in encouraging employers to accept the business case for disabled people. Part of the DRC's remit is to be a central source of information and advice on the DDA. Employers and service providers are a key target audience and the DRC's Helpline is currently being promoted to business via advertisements in the regional and trade press. An interactive service is available between 8.00 and 20.00, and a range of leaflets and factsheets on all parts of the DDA is available free of charge. An ordering facility is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Standards Fund

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, pursuant to his answer of 22 June 2000, Official Report, column 269W, on the Standards Fund, if he will break down the way in which sums surrendered for the Standards Fund were used. [128065]

Ms Estelle Morris: The sums surrendered for the Standards Fund 2000-01 were mainly used to provide further support for LEAs and schools to achieve the objectives of the specific grants in the programme, in particular Special Educational Needs, National Grid for Learning, and Protecting and Expanding Music Services. In addition, £9 million of the surrendered amount is being used to fund the new Pupil Allowance Scheme, announced on 27 April, for secondary schools in Excellence in Cities areas who accept difficult pupils outside the normal school admission round.

Lone Parents

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many families (a) in Coventry, South, (b) in the West Midlands Region and (c) nationally will benefit from Government measures aimed at helping lone parents balance work and family life. [127245]

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Ms Hodge [holding answer 26 June 2000]: We do not yet have information about how many families will benefit as a result of the Work-Life Balance Campaign. This is a general campaign from which everybody stands to benefit: the economy; businesses; society; families, including those headed by lone parents; and individuals.

The New Deal for Lone Parents is a specific measure designed to help those lone parents on Income Support into work. Between October 1998 when the programme was rolled out nationally and the end of March 2000, NDLP has helped 94 lone parents in the Coventry, South constituency into jobs. The figure for the West Midlands Employment Service Region is 4,021 and the figure nationally is 44,640. Taking into account the earlier phases of NDLP the figure is 50,911. The Government have recently announced an expansion to this programme to allow support to be given to more lone parents.

School Funding (Warrington, North)

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list the primary schools in Warrington, North constituency which have received additional money to reduce class sizes. [127319]

Ms Estelle Morris [holding answer 26 June 2000]: The schools in Warrington, North which have received additional funding as part of the Government's initiative to limit infant classes to 30 pupils are as set out. £620 million is available to support the initiative, and allocations so far to Warrington LEA amount to £2.8 million. This has helped to reduce the size of the average Key Stage 1 class in Warrington, North to 25.9. The figure in January 1997 was 27.5. The number of children in infant classes of 31 or more pupils in the constituency has fallen from 1,450 in January 1997, to 710 in January 2000.

Special Schools (Closures)

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many special schools were approved for closure in each year since 1992. [122229]

Jacqui Smith: This information is not held centrally. While the date on which a school actually closes is a matter of public record, the date on which approval to close it was given is much less easy to identify and it has not been possible to obtain consistent information, despite every effort having been made to do so over the past few weeks.

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Energy Use

Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what mechanisms he uses for monitoring energy use in different sectors of the economy. [127454]

Mrs. Liddell [holding answer 26 June 2000]: I have been asked to reply.

The Government collect information on energy use in different sectors from a variety of sources, including returns from energy companies themselves. Further information on energy use in different sectors of the economy, including data sources, may be found in the annual Digest of UK Energy Statistics. A copy of the 1999 edition has been placed in the Library. The 2000 edition will be published on 27 July.

Figures showing energy consumption by broad sectors of the economy, on a quarterly basis, are routinely published in the Department's monthly statistical bulletin, "Energy Trends".

Fuel Poverty

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on progress made in partnership with Transco on implementing the affordable warmth programme in advance of next winter. [127573]

Ms Hewitt: I have been asked to reply.

There has been significant progress on Affordable Warmth since my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry trailed the scheme in a speech last October. The Government have worked closely with Transco in developing the scheme, and, in particular, have amended the rules on capital allowances to encourage the use of lease financing for domestic central heating equipment which is central to the scheme's operation.

The scheme was formally launched to MPs, local authorities, and the fuel poverty lobby by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on 8 June. Transco subsequently presented the scheme to Welsh housing providers in Cardiff on 26 June.

There are two separate aspects to the scheme--the installation of central heating and insulation in the homes of the fuel poor, and the development of training opportunities for those employed through the scheme. On the first of these, Transco have given 175 presentations about the scheme to social housing providers, and planned installations so far include Inverclyde Council (3,500 homes) and Derby City Council (600 homes). Discussions are proceeding with Leicester City Council (3,000 homes). Many more housing providers--including Blaenau Gwent--have expressed interest.

Transco estimate that at least 3,000 homes will be treated by the end of the calendar year 2000, and perhaps many more than that as the scheme gathers momentum. We expect a million homes to be improved under the scheme over the next five years. This will significantly reduce the incidence of fuel poverty.

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On the training front, there are already three live projects:

Other projects currently under discussion include:

Further regeneration areas being targeted include Hull and Luton. Transco expect that the scheme will create 10,000 training opportunities, with 3,000 of those becoming fully-qualified gas fitters. It is also expected that 3,000 opportunities will be made available for people under the New Deal.

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what work he is carrying out in collaboration with National Energy Action to relieve conditions of fuel poverty in the United Kingdom. [127576]

Mr. Meacher: The Department has supported the work of National Energy Action (NEA) for many years. This year it will be providing grant funding of £736,000 towards NEA's work in England, concentrating on: support to local authorities in developing affordable warmth strategies for their area; identifying how to reach fuel poor households in rural areas; and development of referral networks among ethnic minority communities.

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