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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the relationship is between the Learning and Skills Council and local authorities in the provision of post-16 education, with particular reference to (a) North Yorkshire county council and (b) City of York council. 
Margaret Hodge: Local authorities are key partners of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). A local LSC must prepare a plan for each of its financial years, and, in so doing, must consult the local authorities (including local education authorities) within its area. The local LSC must also have regard to the local authorities' strategies for the promotion of economic, social and environmental well-being. Local LSCs must also have members who understand the needs of local communities through local authority experience, either as elected members or in an official capacity. In most cases both local authority members and officials already sit on local LSC boards.
Each local LSC is responsible for approving the Adult Learning Plans provided by each local authority. These are then subject to national moderation. These Plans outline what each local authority will do with the funding provided by the local LSC in the provision of vocational and non-vocational education and training in the local area.
Local LSCs will, from April 2002, be responsible for funding local education authorities for their sixth- form provision, including new LEA-maintained 16 to 19 institutions. Those funds must be passed on to the relevant schools in full.
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Margaret Hodge: The Learning and Skills Council has been established to provide effective planning and funding of post-16 learning, focusing on individual, employer and community needs at national and local level. Local LSCs are accountable for delivery to their boards, whose members represent a broad cross-section of local interests. Local LSCs must have members who understand the needs of local communities through local authority experience, either as elected members or in an official capacity. In most cases both local authority members and officials already sit on local LSC boards. And when developing their strategic plans, local LSCs are required to consult with a wide range of local partners.
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) if she intends to respond to the recommendations of the Rees report to abolish student tuition fees; and if she will make a statement; 
Margaret Hodge: I discussed the recommendations of the report with the Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning at the National Assembly for Wales during the summer. We have since announced a review of student funding arrangements in England and Wales, which will consider specifically the balance between state funding and the contributions made by students and their families.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the value was, for each local education authority found to be failing by OFSTED, of additional payments from her Department to assist improvement of local education authority management in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Timms: Between October 2000 and September 2001, the Department for Education and Skills has paid the following authorities the amounts shown as part of its response to an adverse report by OFSTED which resulted in formal DfES intervention.
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(8) Figures rounded to the nearest pound
The payments relate to work such as specialist advice and interim managers sought to support the authorities during the intervention process. The cost of individual contracts for intervention work is commercial in confidence.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the number, value and location of properties newly leased in each of the last five years by his Department, including and distinguishing between the Department itself, its next step agencies and its non-departmental public bodies, differentiating between purchases made as a result of the creation of new bodies and those purchases made by established bodies. 
Mr. MacShane: The only property newly leased by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the last five years is one floor of 89 Albert Embankment, London. The lease started in June 2000 and the annual rent is £274,069.
For NDPBs, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy leased new offices at 125 Pall Mall in June 1999, rent £40,000 per year; the Britain-Russia Centre leased new offices at 9 Elms Lane, Vauxhall in July 1998, rent £64,000 per year; and the British Association for Central and Eastern Europe leased new offices at 10 Westminster Palace Gardens in September 2000, rent £24,700 per year.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary-General of the UN concerning the timetable for reconfiguring the Security Council to allow for regional representation. 
Peter Hain: The timetable for reform has not featured in recent discussions between Ministers and the UN Secretary-General and in any case is not the responsibility of the Secretary-General, but that of the UN General Assembly. In the General Assembly, we have continued
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to press for expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent categories of membership, including new permanent seats for Japan, Germany and each of the regions of Asia, Latin America and Africa.
While we believe the Security Council should be made more representative of the diversity of UN membership, it already contains members drawn from all of the UN's regional/electoral groups. Article 23 of the Charter of the United Nations lists equitable geographical distribution among the factors to be considered in the election of non-permanent members.
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what departmental guidance is issued relating to maximum times for responding to hon. Members' correspondence by Ministers. 
Mr. Straw: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office follows the Cabinet Office good practice guide for handling correspondence for Members. The current target time for the FCO to reply to Members is 20 working days, as agreed with the Cabinet Office.
Mr. Bradshaw: There is no indication at present that President Mugabe intends to call a state of emergency. We continue to urge the Government of Zimbabwe to take the necessary steps to restore political and economic stability, to respect human rights and the rule of law, and to create an environment conducive to free and fair elections.
Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the impact on relations with (a) Saudi Arabia and (b) Pakistan of the bombing of Afghanistan. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Saudi Arabia was quick to condemn the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US. It fully supports the international campaign against terrorism. Crown Prince Abdullah most recently reiterated this to the Prime Minister on 9 October. Saudi Arabia remains a close ally in the region and a long-standing friend of the UK.
We also applaud Pakistan's decision to back international action against terrorism. We have underlined that the campaign in Afghanistan is against terror and not against Islam or the Afghan people. We recognise that this reassurance is important to Pakistan. Pakistan is a valuable ally. Its decision to support the coalition has served to strengthen our bilateral relationship.
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