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Ms Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the progress of the Education Maintenance Allowance scheme in the London borough of Camden; and how many students have taken up the allowance since its introduction. 
Mr. Wicks [holding answer 10 April 2001]: I am pleased to say that the progress of the Education Maintenance Allowance scheme in the London borough of Camden is good with 367 students receiving the allowance. Applications are still being received and these are processed within 48 hours. Over £162,000 has been paid to students this year. This includes end of term attendance bonuses of £7,750.
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statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Cannock Chase constituency, the effects on Cannock Chase of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. 
Mr. Steinberg: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how much funding is available to help full-time students who are in financial difficulties (a) this year and (b) in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Wicks: The total amount available through higher education Access and Hardship Funds to help students in financial difficulty in 2000-01 is £87 million, almost four times the amount available in 1997-98. Both full and
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part-time students are eligible to apply for help, and the total includes £13 million for the fee waiver scheme introduced in 1998 specifically for part-time students on benefit or low incomes. Additionally, since 1998 full-time students have been able to apply for a discretionary Hardship Loan of up to £500 each year.
The Government have made available a range of further education learner support funds for students facing financial difficulties in further education. Discretionary funding has been massively increased to support the most disadvantaged students. In addition, we are piloting Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs) in 56 local education authority areas to provide weekly support to further education students assessed on the basis of parental income.
Table 1 shows the amounts available through the higher education Access and Hardship Funds since the 1995-96 academic year. The Funds were doubled in 1998-99 when part-time students became eligible to apply for help. The funding provided to meet fee waivers for part-time students since 1998-99 is separately identified.
|Academic year||Access and Hardship Fund||Fee waivers for part-time students|
|Academic year||Discretionary funding|
|Financial year||Education maintenance allowances|
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Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what steps he has taken to inform parents of the availability of nursery vouchers; how they may be applied for; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Hodge [holding answer 23 April 2001]: Nursery education vouchers were replaced in 1997 by a system of payments to nursery education providers. This system emphasises co-operation, rather than competition, between providers and is a more effective way of ensuring parents have access to the nursery education they want for their children.
All four-year-olds have had access to a free nursery education place since September 1998. From September 2004, all three-year-olds will be entitled to a free nursery education place. Total spending on nursery education will double from £1 billion in 1996-97 to £2 billion by 2003-04. It is intended to fund 200,000 more free places for three and four-year-olds in 2001-02 than in 1997-98.
To help parents choose suitable nursery education, they can obtain information about the early education and childcare provision in their area by contacting their local Childcare Information Service. There is also the ChildcareLink national freephone information line (0800 096 0296) and a website www.childcarelink.gov.uk from which parents can obtain details of provision in England and Scotland. We are also working with several major retailers and other organisations to enable parents to access this information in public places.
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many pre-school groups there were in (a) West Sussex and (b) the Chichester parliamentary constituency in 1997; and how many there are at present. 
Ms Hodge: Data on pre-school groups are not available at constituency level. In March 1997 there were 353 registered pre-school groups in the West Sussex area and in March 2000 there were 309. In the light of changing patterns of demand, many pre-school groups are diversifying and expanding their provision into daycare and nursery education
Over the same time period the number of registered day nurseries have increased from 79 to 90, the number of registered holiday schemes from 66 to 213 and the number of registered out of school clubs from 31 to 66. Free nursery education places for three and four-year-olds have increased from 8,245 in 1997 to 9,501 in 2001.
£300 million is being made available nationally between April 2001 and March 2004 for the creation of new Neighbourhood Nursery centres in disadvantaged areas and many pre-schools may want to take advantage of this. We are making £986 million available over the years 2001-02 to 2003-04 for the provision of free nursery education places for three-year-olds, and other early years initiatives. Playgroups, along with other early education providers will benefit from this expansion. In addition, £6 million in capital between 2002-04 and
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£4 million in revenue this year is also being made available specifically to help playgroups and maintained schools expand into childcare.
We have also made available a total of £1.75 million in the three-year period 1998-2000 for special grants to voluntary pre-schools and playgroups facing short-term financial difficulties, to give them breathing space to consider their longer term plans. To date over 2,000 pre-schools and playgroups have received grants.
Mr. William Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the Government's planned approach to the United Nations International Labour Organisation meeting on bonded labour in June. 
Ms Jowell: The Government fully support the ILO's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up. We actively encourage member states to fulfil their obligations and work towards ratifying and implementing the provisions of the Conventions covered by the Declaration which include the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour, including bonded labour, the subject of the June Conference discussion.
Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if the Government will support the setting up of the monitoring unit for bonded labour under the International Labour Organisation Technical Co-operation Unit. 
Ms Jowell: The Government fully support the follow- up process to the International Labour Organisation (ILO)'s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. We actively encourage member states to fulfil their obligations and work towards ratifying and implementing the provisions of the Conventions covered by the Declaration including those on forced and bonded labour.
Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what age limit is placed on appointments to public bodies in his Department; if this limit is mentioned in advertisements for such posts; and what the basis for this limit is. 
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