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Child Labour

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what is the Government's policy on Commission Recommendation 2000/581/CE,, pursuant to Convention 182 of the Organisation Internationale du Travail, on banning the worst forms of work for children; which jobs undertaken in the United Kingdom are covered; how many are involved; and if he will make a statement. [135575]

Ms Jowell: The Government fully support the International Labour Organisation's Convention No. 182 concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour and ratified the Convention in March 2000. As part of the implementation of the Convention we are required to identify work which by its nature, or the circumstances

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under which it is carried out, is considered likely to harm the health, safety and morals of children under the age of 18. We are currently in the process of determining a list of harmful areas of work existing in the UK.

Work Force Dignity

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what assessment he has made of the costs involved in maintaining the dignity of the work force in accordance with Article 31 of the draft European Charter of Fundamental Rights. [135572]

Ms Jowell: None. The Charter is not legally binding. It is addressed to the EU Institutions, and to member states only when they are implementing Union law (Article 51(1)). It does not establish any new power or task for the Community or the Union or modify powers and tasks defined by the Treaties (Article 51(2)).

Learning Support Units

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many learning support units are (a) planned and (b) operating in (i) England and Wales, (ii) Nottinghamshire and (iii) Nottingham; and what the time scale is for the establishment of learning support units in each of those areas. [135487]

Jacqui Smith: We are planning to have over 1,000 Learning Support Units established in England by 2002. For information about the plans and time scales for Units in Nottinghamshire and City of Nottingham, I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 19 July 2000, Official Report, column 201W.

The number of Units currently operating in England is around 500 of which 16 are in Nottinghamshire.

Information about the number of Units in Wales is a matter for the Welsh Assembly.

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what the curriculum is for pupils in learning support units. [135483]

Jacqui Smith: This is for the mainstream and unit staff to determine in the light of pupils' individual needs and circumstances. But unit staff should both liaise closely with the school's teaching staff in setting and marking suitable work, and consult the senior management team in fixing the details of an appropriate curriculum.

Carers

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what steps the Government are taking to ensure that people who have responsibilities as carers are not unfairly discriminated against within the labour market. [135801]

Ms Hodge [holding answer 30 October 2000]: The Government recognise the valuable contribution carers make both to their families and society as a whole. We are keen to give them the support they need--whether to balance work with their caring responsibilities or to get back to work when their caring responsibilities end or reduce.

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For those carers seeking to enter the labour market, Employment Service advisers ensure that they have the same access to all the programmes, such as New Deal, as any other job seeker, and can be granted exemptions from requirements in certain circumstances. Advisers discuss with the individual their circumstances and skills and tailor the help that will best equip them to enter the labour market. The Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) rules also contain special provision to help carers back into employment.

New Deal 50 plus takes account of time spent on Invalid Care Allowance when assessing eligibility. My Department has worked in partnership with The Carers National Association to produce a leaflet to explain how New Deal 50 plus can help carers back into work.

For those carers who are working the new entitlement to take a reasonable time off work to deal with a crisis involving the care of a dependant is a significant new right. The Government believe in a fair and flexible labour market that benefits both employers and employees, working in partnership together. Our Work-Life Balance campaign encourages all employers to introduce policies and practices which benefit the business and help their staff achieve a better balance between work and the rest of their lives. These practices can offer carers a greater choice over where, when and how they work and can help employers retain valued staff.

Higher Education Institutions

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what criteria he employs when deciding to admit private higher education institutions into the publicly funded sector; and how many such applications have been successful. [135534]

Mr. Wicks: Under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, any private higher education institution seeking designation into the publicly funded sector must have at least 55 per cent. of its full-time equivalent roll capable of being defined as higher education.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) provides advice to the Secretary of State on applications from private institutions seeking designation as higher education institutions.

HEFCE funding would require institutions to comply with all the conditions related to receipt of grant, including quality assessment, financial health, governance, audit and accountability standards.

No private higher education institution has been designated under these provisions so far.

Disabilities

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what action he is taking to improve the position of those with more than one impairment or complex disabilities. [135840]

Ms Hodge [holding answer 31 October 2000]: We are tackling the social exclusion of disabled people, including those with more than one impairment or who have complex disabilities, in three ways.

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First, we are continuing to implement the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, and we set up the Disability Rights Commission earlier this year. Secondly, we are working to raise awareness and give advice and information to businesses about the requirements of the DDA through disability awareness campaigns. Thirdly, the Employment Service has a range of specialist employment measures which aim at removing the barriers faced by disabled people. These included the Access to Work, Supported Employment, and Work Preparation Programmes, and the services of the Disability Employment Advisers.

The New Deal for Disabled People which has been successfully piloted, will be extended nationally. We are also considering the recommendations of the Disability Rights Task Force, in tandem with the implementation of the recently agreed Employment Directive under Article 13.

Students

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what response he has sent to the Joint Council for Education in the Commonwealth/UK COSA report on international student mobility. [135937]

Mr. Wicks [holding answer 1 November 2000]: We are closely considering the report's recommendations. I am pleased to see that a good deal of what the report suggests is being already implemented in the UK. For example, we place great importance on attracting more international students to the UK. We are actively pursuing this through the Prime Minister's initiative to recruit an additional 75,000 students into further and higher education by 2005.

Departmental Guidance (Teachers)

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if his Department's guidance to teachers is based on the principle that teachers act in loco parentis. [136261]

Ms Estelle Morris: Guidance is issued by my Department on the basis of the law, policy and good practice.

Reading (Phonetic Teaching)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the phonetic approach to the teaching of reading. [136194]

Ms Estelle Morris: The National Literacy Strategy, which is based on research and inspection evidence of best practice, gives a strong emphasis to the systematic teaching of phonics. As part of the strategy, we have provided all primary schools with practical guidance on the teaching of phonics in the booklet "Progression in Phonics". Since the implementation of the literacy strategy began, there has been a 10 percentage point increase, to 75 per cent., in the percentage of 11-year-olds achieving the standards expected for their age in English.

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