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Private Finance Initiative

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her estimate is of the rate of returns of PFI contracts in schools in England and Wales. [6759]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 15 October 2001]: The rate of return to a private sector contractor in a schools PFI contract is fixed as part of the annual payment made by a local education authority for delivery of the services specified in the contract, and as such is a matter between the local education authority and its private sector partner. All PFI contracts in schools have to demonstrate better value for money than traditional procurement.

PFI in schools in Wales is the responsibility of the National Assembly for Wales.

Departmental Spending

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the total amount of spending by her Department was in each nation and region of the UK, in the last year for which figures are available; what proportion of her Department's total spending this constitutes; and if she will make a statement. [6863]

John Healey: The Department for Education and Skills does not have responsibility for spending outside England except for higher education student support and its administration for students from Wales plus some small programmes. The table shows estimated programme spending by Government region in 1999–2000 by the then Department for Education and Employment on those programmes for education and skills which are now the responsibility of this Department. It does not include local authority expenditure on education and training funded from the education standard spending assessment. This is paid through the revenue support grant distributed by the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions.

Central Government expenditure on education and skills programmes 1999–2000

Region£ billion(15)Percentage(16)
South East1.512
South West1.410
West Midlands1.511
East Midlands1.18
Yorkshire and Humberside1.310
North East0.75
North West1.914

(15) Expenditure figures rounded to nearest £100 million

(16) Percentage figures may not appear to sum due to rounding


1. Total excludes approximately £100 million expenditure in Wales on student loans, mandatory awards, student loan administration for higher education students from Wales

2. Total includes New Deal for Schools capital, the Children's Fund, Sure Start and Ofsted. Total also includes some smaller programmes of which the proportion allocated outside England is less than £20 million.

3. Total does not include annually managed expenditure—the vast majority of this is teachers' pensions, which also covers Wales.


Departmental Report 2001 and internal analysis

16 Oct 2001 : Column: 1183W

Dyslexic Pupils

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her estimate is of the number of primary school age children (a) who are dyslexic and (b) whose condition has been helped by special provision; and if she will make a statement. [6962]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 15 October 2001]: The information requested is not held centrally.

Since 1981, following the Warnock recommendation, information about pupils' special educational needs categorised by disability or learning difficulty has not been collected centrally. We are looking into the feasibility of collating such information. A pilot study was carried out in June and this is currently being evaluated.

16 Oct 2001 : Column: 1184W

If the pilot is successful—and subject to consideration of the burden on schools and LEAs—the new data collection arrangements will be introduced nationally from 2003 as part of the Department's new Common Basic Data Set (CBDS) arrangements.


Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what was, for each year since 1995, the average response time for providing a substantive answer to (a) hon. Members' correspondence, (b) correspondence from members of the public and (c) written parliamentary questions in the (i) Commons and (ii) Lords; [7003]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The effective handling of correspondence and parliamentary questions is an issue to which I, and ministerial colleagues, attach great importance.

General information on the volumes of correspondence received across Whitehall and on overall performance is published by the Cabinet Office. Figures for 2000 were published on 6 April 2001, Official Report, columns 324–28W and on 19 July 2001, Official Report, columns 454–56W.

Information on response times of parliamentary questions (PQs) for years prior to the 1998–99 parliamentary session is not held centrally.

The average response times for Commons and Lords written PQs could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, the tables show the data that are readily available on PQ response rates.

Commons named day PQs answered:
on the named day(17)714532235183
up to two days after12417212941
between three days and one week after6816712916
between one and four weeks after501111026
between four weeks and three months after932250
over three months after0200

(17) In accordance with Standing Order 22(4) (usually three days from date of tabling)

Commons Ordinary Written PQs answered:
within five days of tabling(18)703588185184
up to two days after200107 91 8
between three days and one week after165 21012511
between one and four weeks after1551541345
between four weeks and three months after623221
over three months after0500

(18) In accordance with guidance on answering of Ordinary Written PQs set out in parliamentary paper HC 393 (1971–72)

Lords Written PQs answered:
within 14 days of tabling(19)1321345312
up to two days after0 010
between three days and one week after0020
between one and four weeks after0000
between four weeks and three months after00 40
over three months after0000
Total132134 60 12

(19) In accordance with section 4.108 of the Companion to the Standing Orders and Guide to the Proceedings of the House of Lords

16 Oct 2001 : Column: 1185W

Religious Education

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make it a requirement to include teaching on the non-religious ethical life stance alongside the major faiths in multi-faith religious education; and if she will make a statement. [7129]

Mr. Timms: The Government have no plans to change the legislation on agreed syllabuses which, since it was introduced in 1988, has helped to contribute towards the rising standards in religious education in non-faith schools reported by Ofsted. Opportunities exist in religious education teaching for pupils to explore issues within and across faiths thereby learning to understand and respect different religions, beliefs, values and traditions (including ethical life stances), and their influence on individuals, societies, communities and cultures.

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will extend Government guidelines on multi-faith religious education in community schools to all maintained religious schools. [7128]

Mr. Timms: Extending the guidelines in the way my hon. Friend suggests would undermine the purpose and ethos of faith schools. Religious education in these schools will continue to be taught in accordance with the trust deed or in accordance with the tenets of the religion in question.

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