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Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many people took up a job with an environmental taskforce under the New Deal during (a) 1999 and (b) the first half of 2000. 
Ms Jowell [holding answer 17 July 2000]: During 1999, 18,000 young people took advantage of the work experience opportunities offered by the Environment Taskforce option of the New Deal for Young People. Latest available figures to April 2000, show that a further 5,800 young people have started this option.
Mr. Wicks: The Greenaway Report was commissioned by the Russell Group of Universities, not the Government. I understand that it has been passed to the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, to form part of their wider inquiry into university funding. The Government are opposed to "top-up" tuition fees and have legislated to prevent universities from levying such charges.
Mr. Bill Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how much has been invested in total in Sheffield schools in the financial years 1999-2000 and 2000-01 to date; and if he will indicate the investment in each school. 
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Ms Estelle Morris: In 1999-2000, £205.3 million of revenue funding and £9.8 million of capital funding was available for use by Sheffield Local Education Authority. The corresponding figures for 2000-01 are £224.2 million of revenue funding and £10.6 million of capital funding. It is not possible to provide revenue and capital allocations for individual schools.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what progress he has made in reducing infant class sizes in the constituency of Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland East; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Estelle Morris: We are well on course to deliver our pledge to limit infant classes to 30 pupils. We have since January 1998 already reduced the number of children in infant classes of over 30 pupils by 300,000. £620 million is available to support the pledge, and allocations so far to Middlesbrough LEA amount to some £750,000. This has helped to reduce the size of the average Key Stage 1 class in Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland, East to 25.6. The figure in January 1998 was 26.8.
Mr. Denham: We have received the report and copies have today been laid in accordance with the requirements of section 5 of the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1921. Copies have also been placed in the Library.
Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what initiatives have been taken by the Council of Ministers, or Commission of the European Community, concerning the desirability and practicality of requiring registration, under commonly agreed conditions, of road haulage firms within the Community licensed to carry goods on surface or sub-surface routes across the sea between the United Kingdom and other member states of the European Community, other than the Republic of Ireland. 
Mr. Hill: A system of registration already exists. Since the entry into force of Council Regulation (EEC) 881-92 on 1 January 1993, hauliers seeking to operate internationally within the Community must be in possession of a Community Authorisation certificate as issued by the licensing authorities in the country in which they are established. This applies to heavy goods vehicle traffic to and from the Irish Republic as well as to haulage operations on mainland Europe.
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Mr. Fearn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on progress in the negotiations between the UK and the US authorities on air service agreements. 
Mr. Mullin: A further round of talks took place in Washington on 5-6 July. The discussions were constructive and covered a wide range of issues, including ideas for phasing-in liberalisation. Negotiations will resume again in London in September.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the HOMES scheme and similar mobility schemes for social housing tenants; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mullin: The activities of HOMES are monitored on an ongoing basis by the DETR. In particular through a requirement on HOMES to agree annual objectives with the Department; to report on their achievement of objectives; and to submit a three year business plan. The level of grant funding DETR provides to HOMES is subject to effective implementation of the plan. The Housing Green Paper "Quality and Choice: A decent home for all" sets out the Government's proposals to promote lettings and transfers policies that offer more choice for existing and prospective tenants of social housing. The role and effectiveness of mobility schemes will be an important consideration. The Government will consider responses to the Green Paper and would wish to discuss any proposals with key interested parties.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what steps he plans to take to meet the commitment in the Housing Green Paper to strengthen the obligation on registered social landlords to co-operate with local authorities in offering accommodation to households on local authority housing registers; and if he will make a statement; 
Mr. Mullin: Statutory guidance issued by the Housing Corporation requires registered social landlords (RSLs) to make available at least of 50 per cent. of their lettings to local authority nominees from the housing register, in order to comply with the duty of co-operation placed on RSLs under section 170 of the Housing Act 1996. Under current arrangements, RSLs with more than 250 units of accommodation or 250 bed spaces are required to provide comprehensive data about households and properties in respect of all their lettings. The Housing Green Paper states that the Government will be reviewing--with a view to strengthening--the current obligation on RSLs to co-operate with local authorities in offering accommodation to people on authorities' housing registers. The Government will consider responses to the Green Paper before deciding how to take this forward, and would wish to discuss
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any proposals with representatives of local government, the Housing Corporation, the National Housing Federation and others before introducing any changes.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to allow social housing tenants to move across local authority boundaries; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mullin: The Housing Green Paper, "Quality and Choice; A decent home for all", sets out the Government's proposals for increasing choice in social lettings. As part of these proposals, we are interested in exploring the scope for promoting greater flexibility and more movement across local authority boundaries, and will consider responses to the Green Paper before deciding whether to develop this further. We would wish to discuss any proposals with representatives of local government, Shelter and others before taking them forward.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to introduce a standardised monitoring system for the letting of social housing stock by registered social landlords and local authorities; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mullin: The Housing Green Paper, "Quality and Choice; A decent home for all", sets out the Government's proposals for increasing choice in social lettings. In taking these proposals forward we will wish to consider the arrangements for monitoring lettings by social landlords.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what assessment he has made of the impact of stock transfer on the availability of social housing for homeless people; 
Mr. Mullin: The Government consider that stock transfer is an important way of improving the quality and availability of affordable social housing. The proposed selection criteria do not explicitly address the issue of homelessness because, following the transfer of their housing stock, local housing authorities retain their obligations towards homeless households under Part VII of the Housing Act 1996. They must also continue to keep a register of applicants who qualify for the allocation of accommodation. To ensure they have access to accommodation to enable them to discharge their housing functions, authorities generally negotiate nomination rights with the transfer landlord of between 50 per cent. and 75 per cent. of the transferred stock.
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