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"Learning to Succeed"

Mr. Salter: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what response he has had to the consultation on post-16 learning, following the publication of the White Paper, "Learning to Succeed"; and if he will make a statement. [102745]

Mr. Blunkett: We have received over 1,000 responses to the consultation about "Learning to Succeed". These responses have shown overwhelming support for our proposals to establish a new system of post-16 learning which is coherent, accessible and responsive to the needs of individuals, companies and communities.

The White Paper sets out our plans for introducing a new Learning and Skills Council for England. I am today publishing a Prospectus which sets out in more detail the way the new Council will work. The new Council will have a budget of around £6 billion and be responsible for almost six million learners. It will establish a strong national framework to lead the drive to meeting national targets, with substantial local flexibility for the 47 local Councils which I announced on 29 October. The local LSCs will ensure that the needs of local communities, including employers and individuals, are met. They will have significant resources to deliver these responsibilities including allocation of the great majority of the LSC's funds. This will include responsibility for a range of local discretionary budgets which will amount to around 10-15 per cent. of the LSC's total budget.

The new Council will ensure that post-16 learning offers excellence with diversity, so that the highest possible standards of provision are consistently secured for the needs of individuals and businesses. In this way, the Learning and Skills Council will be at the centre of the Government's drive to raise skill levels, increase the employability of individuals, and secure the competitiveness of UK business.

In the consultation paper on school sixth form funding that was published with "Learning to Succeed" we invited views on whether local education authorities should be funded by the Learning and Skills Council for school sixth

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form provision, or whether they should continue to be funded through the current local government finance system. In the light of the comments received, in particular from headteachers, we have decided that LEAs should in future receive their sixth form funds via the Learning and Skills Council, with schools continuing to receive the funds from their local education authority. For 16 to 19-year-olds, schools and colleges often deliver the same type of teaching, curriculum and qualifications. The LSC's involvement will ensure a coherent approach to post-16 provision, helping to support high national standards and greater local collaboration. There will be safeguards so that a school's sixth form budget will not reduce in real terms provided numbers are maintained. We do not expect to introduce this change in funding arrangements before 2002-03 and will be consulting LEAs, schools and others shortly on the timing, phasing and implementation of the change.

Schools with sixth forms will play a vital role in the drive to increase success for all our young people. We also want to encourage new forms of provision to meet the needs of young people and to ensure that patterns of provision best serve local needs. We therefore intend to lift the legal bar on the creation of LEA-maintained 16-19 institutions imposed by the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. Subject to the passage of legislation, LEAs and other promoters will all be able to propose the creation of LEA-maintained 16-19 institutions. The LSC will also be able to propose the establishment of new LSC-maintained sixth form colleges. In addition, FE colleges will continue to be able to set up their own bespoke sixth form provision where there is a demand for this locally. These arrangements will put in the hands of local communities options for raising standards and providing the choices and curriculum breadth young people need and want as we enter the next century.

Through the Learning and Skills Council and the complementary initiatives we are taking at other levels of education, we are determined to raise people's aspirations, improve standards and greatly extend opportunities for lifelong learning to all. The setting up of the Learning and Skills Council is also part of our wider efforts to prepare everyone in this country for their full participation in a knowledge-driven economy and modern, democratic society.

Copies of the Prospectus are available in the Vote Office. A full analysis of the responses to the consultation will be published in the new year. The proposals in the White Paper and the Prospectus remain subject to the passage of legislation which was announced in the Queen's Speech.


Drugs (Price Increases)

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what has been the level of increase in the price of drugs prescribed generically by the NHS in each of the last three years, indicating the 10 drugs which have shown the highest rate of increase and what that rate has been in each case. [100847]

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Ms Stuart: The available information is set out in the tables:

Level of increase in price of drugs prescribed generically by the National Health Service in each of the last three years

Price indexAnnual increase in prices
1997100.30.3 per cent.
199896.8-3.5 per cent.
1999105.28.7 per cent.


The price index is based on those 90 drugs within the top 100 generic drugs by net ingredient cost in 1998 which were dispensed in each year between January 1996 and June 1999. Prices of individual drugs have been weighted using quantities dispensed in 1998. Data for 1999 is based on prescriptions dispensed in the first half of the year.

Top 10 generic drugs with greatest increase in unit reimbursement price between 1996 and 1997

Drug namePercentage change in unit price
Warfarin Sod Tab 1mg222.8
Warfarin Sod Tab 3mg218.2
Frusemide Tab 40mg34.8
Diclofenac Sod Tab E/C 50mg31.7
Glibenclamide Tab 5mg25.6
Bendrofluazide Tab 2.5mg13.1
Thyroxine Sod Tab 25mcg9.9
Co-Codamol Eff Tab 8mg/500mg8.0
Cimetidine Tab 400mg7.4
Dihydrocodeine Tart Tab 30mg7.2

Top 10 generic drugs with greatest increase in unit reimbursement price between 1997 and 1998

Drug namePercentage change in unit price
Erythromycin Tab E/C 250mg34.4
Amoxycillin Cap 250mg24.1
Hypromellose Eye Dps 0.3%17.6
Oxytetracycline Tab 250mg16.9
Co-Codamol Eff Tab 8mg/500mg8.8
Ibuprofen Tab 400mg8.5
Amoxycillin Oral Susp 250mg/5ml6.3
Co-Amilofruse Tab 2.5mg/20mg6.1
Hydroxocobalamin Inj 1mg/1ml Amp6.0
Amoxycillin Oral Susp 125mg/5ml5.2


1. The top 10 generic drugs with the greatest increase in each table were selected from the top 100 generic drugs in terms of net ingredient cost in the review period.

2. The prescription information was obtained from the Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) system and is based on a full analysis of all prescriptions dispensed in the community, i.e. by community pharmacists, and appliance contractors, dispensing doctors, and prescriptions submitted by prescribing doctors for items personally administered, in England.

3. The unit prices are averages calculated for each preparation from the net ingredient cost and the quantity in each period.

4. The net ingredient cost is the basic cost of a drug and does not take account of discounts, dispensing costs, fees or prescription charges income.

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Top 10 drugs (from top 100 generics in terms of net ingredient cost in 1998) with greatest per cent. increase in Drug Tariff price between January and December 1999

PreparationPer cent. change in unit price (29)
Bendrofluazide tablets 2.5mg988.2
Frusemide tablets 40mg711.7
Ibuprofen tablets 400mg315.4
Tamoxifen tablets 20mg216.8
Cimetidine tablets 400mg213.9
Thyroxine tablets 25mcg175.2
Captopril tablets 12.5mg171.3
Amoxycillin capsules 250mg143.1
Warfarin tablets 3mg127.1
Co-dydramol tablets 10/500125.9

(29) January-December 1999


Prices have been taken from the printed Drug Tariff (except December 1999 from PPA spreadsheet) and are therefore on a different basis to those quoted for earlier years which have been derived from prescriptions already dispensed and processed.


Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate his Department has made of the cost to the NHS of charging a single prescription charge for HRT prescriptions which specify more than one hormone replacement. [98763]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 29 November 1999]: It is estimated that around £6 million in charge income would be lost if a single prescription charge was paid when more than one hormone in hormone replacement therapy was supplied by community pharmacists in England.

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