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Brian Cotter: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what progress has been made regarding the consultation on the Government's proposals to give local authorities the discretion to reduce the 50 per cent. council tax discount for second homes and long-term empty homes. 
Mr. Leslie: The Government issued "Council Tax: A consultation paper on proposed changes for second homes and long term empty homes" last November. The deadline for responses was 15 February. We are currently considering responses and intend to announce the way forward shortly.
The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the volume of Members' correspondence received by Departments. The report for 2001 was published on Friday 24 May Official Report, column 674W. Copies of previous reports are available in the Library of the House.
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Mr. Luff: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the land that his Department is (a) offering for sale and (b) plans to offer in the next 12 months, giving its (i) location and (ii) size. 
Mr. Bacon: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on (a) the circumstances in which an accounting officer should seek a direction from a Minister before authorising expenditure, (b) the number of occasions since 1 May 1997 that such directions have been sought by accounting officers and (c) the Department and sum involved and the purpose of the expenditure for which a direction was sought in each case. 
Mr. Boateng [pursuant to the reply, 8 May 2002, c. 253W]: It has come to the Treasury's attention that the schedule of ministerial directions was incomplete and should have included a direction issued in 2001 in the Department of Trade and Industry concerning regional selective assistance. I apologise for this omission.
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new buildings and major refurbishments have been made; what the capital value of each project is; and what stage they are in the PFI procurement process. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: 68 local education authority schools projects have been awarded PFI credits for new buildings or major refurbishments. Of these, 44 have reached financial and/or commercial close, with a total capital value of £1.229 billion. Another 24 projects are in procurement, having been approved by the Treasury- chaired Project Review Group (PRG). Details of these projects are given on the Department's website at www.teachernet.gov.uk/schoolsprivatefinanceinitiative. A further 30 projects have been awarded PFI credits on a provisional basis and are currently preparing Outline Business Cases for consideration by the PRG.
The capital value in terms of PFI credits for each of the 44 signed projects is shown in the table. The capital value of the 24 projects in procurement and the 30 provisionally approved projects is subject to change.
|Local authorities||PFI credits (£ million)|
|Brighton and Hove||24.8|
|Tower HamletsGrouped Pilot||88.5|
10 Jun 2002 : Column 1039W
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether a Scottish Executive Minister will be a member of the UK delegation to the Education and Youth Affairs European Union Council of Ministers meeting on 30 May; and what information is being provided by her Department to the Scottish Executive in connection with pre-council scrutiny by the European Committee of the Scottish Parliament. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: No Scottish Executive Minister attended the Education and Youth Affairs Council on 30 May 2002. Pre-council scrutiny by the European Committee of the Scottish Parliament is a matter for that Parliament and for the Scottish Executive The Scottish Executive has provided the European Committee of the Scottish Parliament with full briefing on the council agenda items and is in regular communication with my Department in respect of council business. My Department stands ready to provide any relevant information and ensures at all times that the Scottish Executive is consulted as appropriate on scrutiny issues in advance of council meetings.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate she has made of the additional workload for teachers and heads arising from the new statutory requirement to (a) publish a race relations policy, (b) collect data on pupil performance, admissions and discipline by racial group, (c) analyse data on the criteria in (b) and (d) assess and monitor the data which have been collected and analysed. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: No such estimates have been made. Schools have been required to collect data on the ethnicity of pupils since 1989, and should already have an equal opportunities policy. This Department has encouraged schools to make more flexible use of administrative and support staff to collect, monitor and analyse data relating to pupils, and we have increased the number of support staff by 78,900 to 213,000 in order to reduce the time teachers spend on non-teaching tasks.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what action the Government will take in respect of schools which do not have a written statement of race relations policy in place by 31 May. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Commission for Racial Equality will be responsible for ensuring that schools comply with the requirement to have a written race equality policy by 31 May. It was given this power by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate she has made of (a) number and (b) percentage of (i) secondary and (ii) primary schools which will have a written statement of the race relations policy by 31 May. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: No such estimates have been made. Under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, all schools are required to have in place by 31 May a written race equality policy and measures for both assessing and monitoring the impact of all their policiesincluding their race equality policyon pupils, staff and parents from different ethnic groups.
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Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if (a) her Department and (b) its agencies have a policy of not considering applications for employment by persons over a particular age. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department for Education and Skills is committed to raising awareness of age issues throughout the Department and eliminating age discrimination, particularly against older people. Age is a key element of the equal opportunities strategy and policy and will remain so.
Our policy provides that all eligible people must have equality of opportunity for employment and advancement on the basis of their suitability for the work, which is assessed through competence based systems. There is no unfair discrimination on the basis of age, disability, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin. Additionally, we continually analyse management information relating to age, to monitor any adverse impact, and improve, our key HR systems.
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