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Mr. Blunkett: On 26 March, the LSC assumed the responsibilities it is taking over from the Training and Enterprise Councils, and from 1 April it will assume the full range of its initial responsibilities, including those which it is taking over from the Further Education Funding Council.
I am today announcing a significant real terms increase in the Learning and Skills Council's budget for its third year of operation. The Council will have an additional £434 million in 2003-04 compared with 2002-03, an increase in real terms of 5 per cent., bringing planned resources available for 2003-04 to £6.4 billion (excluding funding for school sixth forms, which will from April 2002 flow through the Learning and Skills Council to local education authorities). The total including this money will come to over £7.4 billion.
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what funding he will make available to further education and sixth form colleges for pay; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Blunkett: Last year I announced that £50 million would be available in 2001-02 and £100 million in 2002-03 for further education and sixth form colleges' pay, subject to satisfactory proposals coming forward from the sector. As testimony to the strength of the proposals that have now come forward, we have earmarked an additional £15 million for further education and sixth form college pay within the resources available
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in 2001-02. £100 million will be available in 2002-03. In 2003-04, there will be a further increase to £135 million. Further education and sixth form colleges will be able to implement their proposals from 1 April 2001.
By 2003-04, the proposals will allow the majority of teachers in further education and sixth form colleges to qualify for increases in salary of up to £2,000, or the pro rata equivalent for part-time staff. Staff in all colleges will also have new opportunities for further salary progression for good teaching. Further education colleges will have additional resources to improve the quality of work delivered by part-time staff, particularly for basic skills.
I will also ensure that teachers of shortage subjects in further education and sixth form colleges will benefit from golden hellos comparable to those already available in schools, and from the arrangements we are piloting to help new entrants to the profession to pay off their student loans over a set period of time. Funding for these new recruitment and retention measures will be additional to the sums I have announced for further education pay.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what sanctions have been considered by (a) the UK Government and (b) the Commonwealth in respect of Zimbabwe; and if he will list those which have been adopted. 
Mr. Wilson: In light of the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe, we imposed a national arms embargo last May. And we are withdrawing the British Military Advisory and Training Team at the end of this month. The Commonwealth acts by consensus. It is not for us to speak on behalf of the Commonwealth.
Mr. Wilson: Zimbabwe is clearly in breach of the Harare Commonwealth Declaration, particularly in terms of respect for the rule of law and independence of the judiciary. But a country may be suspended from the Commonwealth only under certain narrowly-defined circumstances, namely the overthrow of an elected government. Such a decision is taken by consensus by all members. The UK is seeking as a member of the High Level Review Group on reform of the Commonwealth, to expand the remit of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) so that it can intervene before the breakdown of democracy, to promote adherence to Commonwealth core values.
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Mr. Wilson: We have regularly urged the Government of Zimbabwe to take urgent action to restore the rule of law. We have also raised our concerns at the decline in law and order in Zimbabwe in international forums.
Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Zimbabwe on behalf of UK citizens whose Zimbabwean pensions have been frozen. 
Mr. Wilson: We regularly remind the Zimbabwean authorities of their commitment to pay pensions to eligible British nationals living outside Zimbabwe. A lack of foreign exchange is making it difficult for Zimbabwe to meet that commitment.
Mr. Rowe: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the current resolution adopted on Sudan by the UN Commission on Human Rights with special reference to slavery. 
Mr. Wilson: At last year's UN Commission on Human Rights, the EU sponsored a resolution on Sudan which set out its concerns about violations of human rights. In particular, the resolution addressed the distressing problem of abduction of women and children, an issue which remains high on our agenda. It called on the Government of Sudan to continue to co-operate with the Committee for the Eradication of Abduction of Women and Children (CEAWC), and to help facilitate the return of affected individuals.
Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on recent military activity around the oil concession areas of Sudan and the rate of civilian displacement and deaths in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Wilson: There has been a great deal of forced displacement from the oil concession areas in south Sudan in the last year. We do not know how many civilian deaths there have been, but there have undoubtedly been many.
All parties to the conflict are to blame in some measure for this. The continued fighting does not help matters. That is why achieving a lasting ceasefire and finding a solution to the conflict remains a priority for this Government.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on joint Franco-British policy on Africa, as set out at St. Malo and Cahors, with special reference to (a) the visit of Robert Mugabe to Paris and (b) French policy on Zimbabwe. 
Mr. Wilson: We exchange information on African countries regularly with the French Government. They share our concerns on the situation in Zimbabwe, and took the opportunity of President Mugabe's visit to raise internal issues.
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Mr. Wilson: We believe that under the terms of the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Co-ordination signed by the Lebanese and Syrian Governments in May 1991, there are between 21,000 and 22,000 Syrian troops in Lebanon.
Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his European counterparts regarding the presence of Hezbullah in Southern Lebanon. 
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