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Ms Estelle Morris: Section 19 of the Education Act 1996 places a responsibility on local education authorities to provide suitable education outside school for children unable to attend school because of illness, exclusion from school or otherwise. By 2002 provision for pupils excluded from school must be full time.
LEAs reported that in January 2000 there were 15,089 pupils of compulsory school age not on the roll of a school or pupil referral unit. This figure includes those pupils being educated at home by local authorities, in community homes or units and arrangements made for the education of children in travellers' families. We do not collect centrally the number of pupils educated at home by their parents.
Statutory guidance from the DfEE advises local education authorities to set up systems for collecting data on the number of children of all ages who are out of school, and their achievements. Such a register will help authorities ensure that vulnerable groups do not become lost in the system between education and employment.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a progress report on negotiations with training and enterprise councils for the apportionment of their assets spent; and how many (a) have or (b) have not yet reached agreement with the Department, the value of assets taken into public ownership or divested elsewhere and the value of such public assets put under the control of local learning and skills councils. 
Mr. Wicks [holding answer 14 December 2000]: Discussions are progressing well with individual TEC/CCTEs about the precise distribution of their asset base. We expect to reach decisions in principle with all TECs early in the new year. The final position will not be know until well into the new financial year after TECs have delivered their contracts and completed their final year's accounts. I will update the hon. Member on progress in the new year.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the readiness of the Learning and Skills Council's information technology systems for its opening for business in April 2001. 
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Mr. Wicks [holding answer 14 December 2000]: The Learning and Skills Council's information technology (IT) systems are currently under development. A number of IT suppliers have been appointed, including FI Group for systems development and ICL for the support and maintenance of IT equipment. The general approach is to manage the transition to the Learning and Skills Council by making maximum use of existing systems from Training and Enterprise Councils and the Further Education and Funding Council and then gradually phasing in new systems. Some Learning and Skills Council systems, eg for payroll and finances, are already in place. Others will be brought in before the Council becomes fully operational.
Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on progress made towards the achievement of the Commonwealth Heads of Government target on the proportion of women in decision-making roles in political, public and private sectors by 2005. 
Ms Jowell [holding answer 14 December 2000]: Statistics are not currently held centrally on all areas listed. However, of the 35,000 appointments made to public bodies some 33 per cent. are held by women. This represents a rise of 10 per cent. on the position in 1991. The Government intend that 50 per cent. of all public appointments should be held by women. In some areas, such as appointments to NHS bodies, this has already nearly been achieved (some 48 per cent.), and the Women's Unit and the Public Appointments Unit are working closely together on strategies which will be sustainable over time to accelerate the overall rate of progress towards that target.
Eighteen per cent. of those elected to the House of Commons, 37 per cent. of those elected to the Scottish Parliament and 40 per cent. of those elected to the National Assembly of Wales are women. 23 per cent. of Cabinet members are women. While the Government believe that a more representative proportion of women in political office strengthens the democratic process, selection procedures remain a matter for the political parties concerned.
Statistics are not held centrally on women's participation in decision-making across the private sector. However, work continues to develop opportunities for women to participate equally in decision making in the private sector. For example, the Government's work-life balance campaign aims to raise awareness of the benefits of introducing policies and working practices which enable employees to balance their work with other responsibilities and needs in their lives.
Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what steps he is taking to help schools in coalfield communities meet the match funding requirements for the establishment of specialist sports or arts colleges. 
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status. This help includes advice and support on seeking and attracting appropriate sponsorship from the private sector including donations from charitable foundations, private trust funds and individuals.
The Government recognise the difficulties which some schools face in raising the private sector sponsorship to support their applications for specialist schools status. It is a challenging task, particularly in areas of socio- economic and rural deprivation. In recognition of this the Government have recently reduced the minimum sponsorship requirement from £100,000 to £50,000. In return, a school designated as a Specialist School receives a further £100,000 towards its capital building project and additional annual grants totalling around £500,000 over four years.
Ms Jowell [holding answer 15 December 2000]: We are determined to help people into work as quickly as possible. Local managers have the authority to decide the best way of doing that for each individual, including buying alarm clocks where that makes a difference to someone's chances of finding work. We do not hold records centrally on the numbers of alarm clocks that have been given to jobseekers.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what the proposed salary scale is for Connexions personal advisers; and whether the scale is linked to the pay of teachers. 
Mr. Wicks: Connexions Personal Advisers will be employed directly by Connexions Partnerships be seconded to partnerships from a range of organisations, or be employed by organisations sub-contracted to deliver Personal Adviser services. We are also working with Partnerships to broaden the pool of people from which Personal Advisers will be recruited. It would not, therefore, be appropriate to impose national salary scales, and there will not be a direct link to the pay of teachers. We have, however, been working with Connexions Pilots on how best to harmonise terms and conditions, and I will shortly be issuing guidance on setting salary scales to Connexions Partnerships.
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on medical examinations for vibration white finger in respect of the intermittent nature of the condition. 
Mrs. Liddell: The medical assessment process for Vibration White Finger (VWF) has been developed with experts in the area of vibration disease. It allows for a claimant with a history of exposure to vibration to undertake a number of controlled tests and to set out for the examining doctor their symptoms.
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Mrs. Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations he has received from the foundry industry concerning new (a) domestic and (b) European regulations. 
Mr. Alan Johnson: On 23 November I chaired a metals tripartite meeting involving the trades unions and the metals industry trade associations. The foundry industry representatives took the opportunity to draw my attention to their increasing concerns about the burden of domestic and European regulations, particularly in respect of the environment, health and safety, energy and employment. Previous foundry industry representations to Ministers have involved my right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade on anti-dumping issues.
Mrs. Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the compliance cost to the foundry industry of the climate change levy to be implemented in April 2001. 
Ms Hewitt: There are no compliance costs associated with payment of the climate change levy, as the sum payable will be added to energy bills. However, there may be some limited compliance costs for those businesses who enter Negotiated Agreements to deliver energy or carbon savings in return for the 80 per cent. discount, depending on the existing level of energy monitoring within individual businesses.
Mr. Alan Johnson: The Department has recently commissioned a new series of competitiveness analyses of the metals sectors, including the foundry industry. Work is under way and the final reports are due to be completed in spring 2001. The outcome of the research will be shared with the trade associations representing the industry in due course.
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Mr. Alan Johnson: The DTI has provided grant funding of £480,111 (1998-99) and £233,193 (1999-2000) under the Innovation budget (including Sector Challenge) for sectoral competitiveness work in support of the foundry industry. The Department is also supporting other foundry industry projects this financial year as well as the new competitiveness analysis study, but to date only a proportion of the funding has actually been paid (£55,582).
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