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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 23 October 2000


Merseyside TEC

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what assessment he has made of the value for money of Merseyside TEC's annual contribution to Mersey Partnerships. [133813]

Mr. Wicks: Merseyside TEC is just one of a number of contributors to the Mersey Partnership. A membership forum, which includes Merseyside TEC, regularly meets to review the progress made by the Mersey Partnership on developing investment strategies and the promotion of and response to investment opportunities. We expect the TEC to judge the value of its contribution in the light of this evaluation of progress.

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what accountability arrangements are in place to ensure the effective spending of the annual contribution of Merseyside TEC to Mersey Partnerships. [133814]

Mr. Wicks: The Government Office regularly reviews the overall performance of the TEC across the range of standards required by the TEC licensing framework. At the level of individual projects, we expect each TEC to have appropriate evaluation arrangements in place. In addition, Mersey Partnership is accountable to its member organisations for the proper and efficient use of contributions in accordance with the terms of reference of the Partnership.

School Trips (Transport)

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will issue guidance to school governors on how to take account of parental concerns over transport hired for school trips; and if he will make a statement in respect of the written risk assessment requirement of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. [134147]

Jacqui Smith: The written risk assessment in question is contained in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Guidance to school governors and others on these matters is already available in "Health and Safety of Pupils on Educational Visits: A Good Practice Guide" (Department for Education and Employment, published in 1998). 58,000 copies have been despatched to schools and other bodies, including the Library.

PGCE Training Courses

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many students have switched from BEd degree courses to PGCE training courses following the introduction of training salaries; and if he will make a statement. [134153]

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Ms Estelle Morris: BEd degrees are undergraduate courses and PGCE training courses are postgraduate. It is therefore unlikely that students will be in a position to switch from one to the other. If students are encouraged to switch to a PGCE route into teaching, in general they would choose not to apply for a BEd course, but take a three-year BA or BSc instead, followed by a PGCE. There will not be evidence of this for another three years.

The number of acceptances for BEd courses at UK higher education institutions starting in September 2000, at 10,397 was virtually the same as in September 1999, at 10,433. The number of acceptances for PGCE courses in England and Wales in September 2000 was 20,993, an increase of around 6 per cent. over last year's figure (19,768).

The Government announced on 30 March that £6,000 training salaries would be introduced for graduate trainees starting postgraduate initial teacher training courses from September 2000. New style "golden hello" incentives of £4,000 were announced for postgraduate trainees in mathematics, science, modern foreign languages, information technology and design and technology, who successfully complete their induction and go on to take up a relevant teaching post.

At the start of April 2000, applications to postgraduate teacher training courses in England and Wales were down by around 11 per cent. compared to the previous year (24,187 compared to 21,537). As a result of the announcement, they are up by around 5 per cent. overall (34,860 compared to 33,056), with particular increases in modern foreign languages (up 20 per cent--2,307 to 2,763) and technology (up 23 per cent.--1,619 to 1,996). The latest acceptance figures show these increases translating into higher acceptances into these shortage subjects.


Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans he has to raise the level of funding for Ofsted following its increased responsibilities in inspecting further education, introduced by the Learning and Skills Bill. [134102]

Ms Estelle Morris: The overall settlement provided by the Spending Review 2000 for Ofsted is £163 million in 2001-02, an increase of £56 million. This takes account of Ofsted's additional responsibilities, namely inspecting further education, introduced by the Learning and Skills Act 2000 and the regulation of child care, introduced by the Care Standards Act 2000 Ofsted will decide how to allocate its overall settlement across all the areas for which it is responsible.

Sure Start Budget

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what proportion of the Sure Start budget will derive from his Department. [134101]

Yvette Cooper: Sure Start budget is an addition to the Department for Education and Employment's expenditure limit, and the Secretary of State speaks for Sure Start in Cabinet. The money for Sure Start is carried on a separate Vote, and the Head of the Sure Start Unit reports to a cross-departmental steering group in respect of this expenditure. I am chair of this group.

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Mr. Baker: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, how many bishops there were in (a) 1970, (b) 1980, (c) 1990 and (d) 2000; what the average cost was of supporting a bishop in each of those years at 2000 prices; and what the ratio was of bishops to the average Sunday congregation in each year. [129656]

Mr. Stuart Bell: The numbers of full-time Diocesan, Suffragan and Assistant Bishops paid by the Church Commissioners in those and other recent years are as follows:

The 1980 and subsequent figures include the two bishops in the Diocese in Europe, following the foundation of that diocese in that year. The 2000 figures include the three Provincial Episcopal Visitors, whose sees were created in the 1990s under the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod, following the decision to ordain women to the priesthood.

The Commissioners do not compile averages of expenditure on bishops because of a number of distorting factors, such as expenditure incurred on discharging national episcopal responsibilities, which would prevent like being compared with like. The total costs of the Church Commissioners' expenditure on bishops in the years in question, adjusted to 2000 prices by reference to the national average earnings index (earnings being the inflation index most appropriate for comparison) are set out. This total cost includes:

£ million
Year to 31 March 197019.6
Year to 31 December 198011.9
Year to 31 December 199014.5
Year to 31 December 199915.3

The substantially lower figure in 1980 largely reflects the significant relative deterioration in all clergy stipends in the 1970s.

Usual Sunday attendance figures for the equivalent years are as follows, 1998 being the latest year for which statistics are currently available:

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These figures should however be treated with caution. The system for measuring attendance has been and continues to be under periodic review. Consequently the figures quoted are not on a like-for-like basis. Nor do they include attendance in the Diocese in Europe.

The methodology now under discussion also recognises that a true picture of church attendance needs to take account of midweek and occasional services as well as those on Sunday. For these reasons, calculating a ratio in the manner suggested could be misleading.


Child Support Agency

Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what his timetable is for the implementation of the proposed changes to the Child Support Agency; and what proposals he has to amend assessments made under the existing rules. [133988]

Angela Eagle: The child support reforms in the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000 will be introduced for new cases by April 2002. Parents who have an existing maintenance assessment will be transferred to the new scheme at a later date when the new system is shown to be working well.

Maintenance calculations made under the new scheme will be based on a simple percentage of the non-resident parent's net income. This means that many parents with an existing child support assessment will see a change to their liability when they are transferred to the new scheme. The change to the new rate will be phased in over a period of up to five years to give families time to adjust.

The White Paper "A new contract for welfare: Children's Rights and Parents' Responsibilities" (CM 4349) sets out the scheme in more detail and contains tables showing what the basic liability will be at different levels of income.

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