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Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what representations he has received on the accuracy of the figures relating to the official total of vacancies held by Jobcentres. 
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Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list the criteria for assessing applications for financial support for economic and physical regeneration initiatives for funds administered by his Department; and what account they take of the variation in (a) the availability of previously developed land and buildings and (b) other considerations of environmental capacity. 
Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) if he will list the schools in (a) Cumbria, (b) Devon and (c) Northumberland which have been closed on account of the foot and mouth outbreak; 
(3) what advice is being given to parents on whether children should be withheld from school on account of the foot and mouth outbreak. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 9 March 2001]: As at Thursday 8 March, only five schools in Cumbria, three in Devon, and none in Northumberland were still closed because of a local outbreak of foot and mouth disease. The following schools in these areas had earlier been closed at some point during the last two weeks, but most have since reopened:
Blackford Church of England Primary School; Hayton Church of England Primary School; Kirkoswald Church of England Primary School; Lochinvar Secondary School, Longtown; Longtown Infant School; Longtown Junior School; and Yanwath Primary School.
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My Department has advised local education authorities that, provided sensible precautions are observed and hygiene measures taken, adults and young people living in areas where restrictions are in place following confirmation of foot and mouth disease locally should normally be able to continue to travel to school, and that schools should endeavour to open and provide a full curriculum--or failing that at least to provide care for children to enable parents to go to work. The full advice on these and other aspects is available to all schools, parents and others on the Department's website, and has been sent to all Chief Education Officers in England, and to other education-interest groups.
Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what the outcome was of the Employment and Social Policy Council held in Brussels on 6 March; if he will set out the Government's voting records at the Council; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Jowell: Along with the Under-Secretary of State for Social Security, my hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Angela Eagle), I represented the UK at the Employment and Social Policy Council held in Brussels on 6 March.
This was a busy Council with the Standing Committee on Employment also meeting in the margins. Council and Committee business focused on preparations for the forthcoming European Council in Stockholm on 23-24 March. The Commission presented its synthesis report, which will inform the social/employment dimension of Stockholm, together with their Scoreboard on the implementation of the Social Agenda and their Communication on New Labour Markets. Ministers also noted the inputs from the Employment Committee and the Social Protection Committee in the discussion on the preparations for Stockholm. The UK emphasised the importance of remaining focused on the priorities agreed at Lisbon, working towards creating choice and mobility in a dynamic and flexible labour market and, with Commission support, pressed for concrete outcomes at Stockholm: particularly in terms of basic skills, the skills and mobility taskforce, action on the gender pay gap, women entrepreneurs and a European employment target for older workers.
The Council held an open debate on the sustainability of pensions systems and agreed that the Social Protection Committee would prepare a report for the European Council in Goteberg on 15-16 June. The Presidency reported on the agreement with the European Parliament for a series of amendments to regulation 1408/71 which co-ordinates social security for migrant workers moving within the EU.
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Under any other business, the Commission raised the recent ILO measures against Burma concerning forced labour and the ratification of ILO Convention no 182 on the worst forms of Child Labour. No substantive discussion was necessary on these items. There was a brief discussion of the Commission's proposals for evaluating the European Employment Strategy, with the Presidency agreeing to remit the issue to the Employment Committee.
Mr. Boateng: The Children's Fund will enable local partnerships to implement strategies for preventive services to ensure that children and young people at risk of social exclusion get the best start in life.
Children's Fund proposals will be built from the bottom up, responding to local needs. Our guidance makes it clear that mentoring and counselling services may be part of these strategies both within and outside the school environment.
Mr. Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the progress of the New Deal, specifying the number of businesses that have participated to date. 
Ms Jowell: Over 83,000 employers have so far signed New Deal Employer Agreements. Together with many others across the country, these employers have helped 274,000 young people, 62,000 people aged over 25 and 75,000 lone parents find work through the New Deals.
Mr. Wills: The Computers in Reach scheme is a cash-limited pilot scheme that is currently in its first phase. In order to ensure that there was not undue demand in the chosen localities it was agreed that the pilots needed both clear boundaries and be limited to certain areas in light of the number of potential customers and the supply available in that area.
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Sir Richard Body: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when he received the request for approval of the transfer of land adjoining Sibsey School from Lincolnshire county council to the school's foundation trustees; and if he will agree to the transfer. 
Jacqui Smith: There has been no application from Lincolnshire county council to the Secretary of State regarding the transfer of land to the Foundation Trustees of Sibsey Free Primary School. Section 77 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 requires local authorities to obtain the Secretary of State's consent before they can sell any playing field used by a school in the last 10 years. I understand that the land in question was previously agricultural land and has not yet been used as school playing field. Therefore, Lincolnshire county council does not need the Secretary of State's consent to transfer it to the School's Foundation Trustees.
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