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Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action she is taking to encourage a reduction of litter in London. 
Mr. Meacher: The Department funds the Tidy Britain Group (TBG) who work closely with the London local authorities to improve local environmental quality. The Government's Pathfinder initiative announced in March is providing £1 million for 50 local authority schemes to promote local environmental quality including reduction in litter. Four of the approved schemes are in London, in Ealing, Lambeth, Lewisham and Newham. In addition Bexley and Wandsworth councils are working with TBG on an educational project, Eco-Schools. This allows schools to carry out an environmental audit, with tackling litter problems a key part. Under the TBG's People and Places programme, TBG officers are working with a third of London's local authorities to survey the amount of litter on the streets and provide advice on how to improve street cleansing.
Thames21 is a partnership project sponsored by TBG which is designed to improve the environment of the River Thames and its tributaries. This programme is actively supported by two thirds of the local authorities in London who make a voluntary contribution to the work.
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Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will publish a combined heat and power strategy. 
Mr. Meacher: We will be issuing a draft Government strategy for consultation by the end of this year.
Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what further steps she plans to take to ensure that 10 GW can be generated by combined heat and power by 2010. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 29 October 2001]: The Department is developing, in close collaboration with DTI and other Departments, a draft CHP strategy, which will set out the measures needed to achieve the Government's target of at least 10,000 MW of installed CHP electrical capacity by 2010. Our timetable for issuing the draft strategy for consultation is by the end of this year.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many cases were referred to SEN tribunals in each local education authority in England in (a) 199899, (b) 19992000 and (c) 200001; what proportion they represent of the school age population of each authority; and how many appeals were (i) upheld or partially upheld, (ii) withdrawn and (iii) turned down. 
Mr. Timms [holding answer 2 November 2001]: Tables showing the number of appeals referred to the special educational needs tribunal by local education authority in each of the three years for which information is requested, the number decided, the number withdrawn and the proportion they represent of the school age population, have been placed in the Library. The tribunal does not collect information about the outcome of appeals in the format requested. However, information about the number of appeals upheld or partially upheld is available at the national level, and has been placed in the Library. A case is listed as "upheld" when any of the points at issue are decided in the parents' favour. Over the last three years, the percentage of decisions where the appeal is upheld has increased from 75 per cent. to 79 per cent.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to abolish the AS level examination; what assessment she has made of the impact of the introduction of the AS level examination on pupils' involvement in non-curricular school activities; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: None. The Government remain committed to the principles behind the Curriculum 2000 reforms, including the AS award. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's phase 1 report on the review of Curriculum 2000 included an assessment of the impact of the introduction of the AS-level examinations on enrichment activities. This concluded that student
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participation in extra-curricular activities has been reduced in some, but by no means all, institutions. A copy of the report has been placed in the Library.
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what initiatives her Department aims at children of school age to promote healthy lifestyles and positive activities not involving drugs and other substance misuse. 
Mr. Timms: We recognise how important it is for young people to be made aware of the positive effects that a healthy, active lifestyle and a nutritious diet can have on their life chances. We are the first Government to introduce a non-statutory framework for personal, social and health education (PSHE) across all four key stages.
Together with the Department of Health, our commitment to promoting healthier lifestyles through positive activities is clear from the "healthy schools" and "food in schools" programmes. The national healthy school standard, the mainstay of the "healthy schools" programme, helps to set the context for schools when developing policies in areas such as healthy eating and physical activity. "Food in schools" brings together all food-related initiatives in schools to improve young people's health and learning. Our recent White Paper, "Schools: Achieving Success", highlighted our commitment to promoting healthier lifestyles among young people.
Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what provision is made for disability issues and education in the legislation governing residential special schools. 
Mr. Timms: The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001, which comes into force in September 2002, will ensure that pupils in all schools receive protection from unfair discrimination. This Act will make it unlawful for education providers to discriminate against disabled pupils and prospective pupils by treating them less favourably on the grounds of their disability or by failing to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled people are not placed at a substantial disadvantage. These provisions apply to admission to the school, the education and other associated services offered and provided to pupils by the school, and exclusion from the school.
Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many IT teaching posts in higher education were unfilled in 2000; 
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(3) what discussions she has had in 2001 on the shortage of IT staff in higher education institutions; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Hodge: The information is not held centrally. Individual universities and colleges, as employers, are responsible for monitoring their own vacancies. However, surveys commissioned by the funding councils and representative bodies to follow up the Bett report suggested that while there were no generalised problems of recruitment or retention, there were specific issues in recruiting to some subjects where there was competition for qualified staff in the economy, including information and communication technology. The Government have made available additional funding for higher education pay over three years, rising to £170 million in 200304. In exchange, all institutions have provided the Higher Education Funding Council for England with a human resources strategy which sets out the issues they have to address and how they will be resolved.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what is the age participation rate in (a) higher education and (b) first degree course for each year since 1980. 
Margaret Hodge [holding answer 29 October 2001]: It is not possible to desegregate a separate participation rate for first degree undergraduates only.
The available information, showing the proportion of under-21-year-olds who enter higher education, is shown in the following table. There was an increase in entrant numbers in 199798, related partly to changes in the funding arrangements for higher education, with students choosing to enter HE rather than wait until 199899. There was a corresponding reduction in 199899 before the entry rates started to increase again in 19992000. Between 199697 and 200001, the total of HE students in English universities and colleges rose by 118,000.
Latest figures show that total acceptances to HE courses in autumn 2001 rose by 5.6 per cent. 1
|Year of entry||Percentage|
(9) Projected: final data on initial entrants are not yet available.
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