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29 Oct 2002 : Column 707W—continued

Puma (Tenders)

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what actions he took to obtain tenders for the refurbishment of six ex-Republic of South Africa SA330 Puma aircraft before announcing his intention to place the main structural contract with Eurocopter of France; and what steps he took to ascertain what other companies were capable of undertaking this work. [77120]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 28 October 2002]: The ex-Republic of South Africa Air Puma helicopters were procured to supplement the existing Ministry of Defence Puma fleet. Because the aircraft had not flown for over five years, and their previous usage spectrum was unknown, it was essential to ensure that the airworthiness and structural integrity of the aircraft could be adequately assured. Options for effecting the refurbishment of the aircraft to the same standard as the existing fleet were evaluated. It was assessed that Eurocopter, the design authority for the Puma, was the only company with the necessary knowledge of, and competences in, the structural load paths of the Puma to be able to act as a prime contractor. As a result, an entry was placed in the MOD Contracts Bulletin notifying that the work would be placed with Eurocopter, while encouraging Eurocopter to maximise sub-contractor opportunities.

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RAF Innsworth

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to reduce the number of civilians employed at RAF Innsworth; and if he will make a statement. [77039]

Mr. Ingram: A wide-ranging review, PTC 2002, was initiated last year. Its aim was to optimise management processes and structures to support operational capabilities in a more timely, efficient and cost-effective manner. PTC 2002 reported in April this year, and recommended a rationalised HQ structure.

A formal evaluation to validate the revised structure is currently being undertaken. However, the latest available figures indicate that there will be a reduction of around 180 posts across PTC (140 civilian (non-industrial) posts and 40 service posts). We estimate that civilian reductions at RAF Innsworth will be in the region of 50, with the remainder 90 occurring at other PTC stations. We intend that all manpower reductions will be effected through natural wastage.

Rapid Deployment Force

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the UK contribution to the proposed NATO rapid deployment force unit will be; and if he will make a statement. [77811]

Mr. Hoon: The NATO Response Force (NRF) concept is currently being discussed within the Alliance, with the guiding principles expected to be put before Heads of State and Government at the November 2002 NATO Summit in Prague for their agreement. While it is premature to discuss what the United Kingdom's precise contribution will be, the UK strongly supports the NRF concept as a means of optimising the utility of the NATO Force Structure across the range of missions. We can therefore anticipate that the UK led Headquarters of the Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps, the United Kingdom Maritime Force and our contribution to NATO Readiness Forces (Air), will form the basis of our participation in the NRF.


Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if, pursuant to his answer of 15 October 2002, Official Report, column 548W, he will assign monetary values to each of the items (a) to (e). [77233]

Mr. Ingram: I will write to my hon. Friend, and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.


Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what vaccination programmes for UK armed forces are (a) under way and (b) planned in advance of possible military action in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [76291]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 24 October 2002]: Regular and reserve forces personnel are offered immunisations as part of an established vaccination programme. Members of the regular forces are given routine vaccinations, with immunity being maintained by the administration of regular boosters. Reservists at

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high readiness for deployment also have their immunity maintained at a similar level by routine booster immunisations. All other reserve forces personnel receive a lesser number of routine immunisations with additional vaccinations, and any necessary boosters, being administered upon an increase to a high readiness state. In advance of overseas deployment, any personnel deploying to areas with a specific health hazard, and those in special occupational risk groups (such as medical personnel), may also be given additional vaccinations before deployment. It is the responsibility of Commanding Officers to ensure that personnel are up to date with the appropriate immunisations. Units should also carry out pre deployment checks of vaccination states. Immunisation also forms part of the package of capabilities which protects our troops from, and enables them to respond effectively to, the threat of biological warfare. Since May 2001, personnel deploying on operations to the Gulf and in specialist NEC units have been included in our programme of voluntary immunisation against anthrax. We have since expanded this programme; I refer the hon. Member to the answer my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence gave on 3 June 2002, Official Report, column 1343–44W, to my hon. Friend the Member for High Peak (Mr. Levitt).


Local Education Authority Funding

Mr. Dave Watts: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many children aged between four and 18 years are in schools in local education authorities; if she will list the funding allocated to each school under her Department's proposed options; and if she will publish the deprivation allocation from additional educational needs under the Government's options (a) with and (b) without any ethnicity-weighting factor. [77160]

Mr. Miliband: There were 7,438,964 pupils between 4 and 18 in maintained schools in local education authorities recorded in the most recent annual schools census. It is not possible to identify the funding allocated to each school under the options set out in the consultation paper on Local Government Finance issued on 8 July: that would depend on decisions to be taken by LEAs on their formulae for distributing funding to their schools. The amounts of funding distributed for additional educational needs, and within that for ethnicity and English as an additional language (EAL), under each of the four consultation options is set out in the table below:

Funding for 2002–03Option 1Option 2Option 3Option4
Deprivation Funding (#m)4,8804,1184,9404,006
Ethnicity/EAL Funding (#m)600421600431

The levels of funding in these options are based on research from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). If an alternative method of funding AEN were used, it would

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be necessary to consider how it could fit with the evidence from the PwC study, which associated substantial costs with the incidence of EAL.

A Levels

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what representations he has received since August on the future of A Levels. [76493]

Mr. Miliband: The Secretary of State has received a number of suggestions that AS Levels be abolished, and that a baccalaureate type system be introduced in place of A Levels.

Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimates she has made of the cost of this year's A-level regrading to her Department. [76783]

Mr. Miliband: We have made it clear that universities and higher education colleges will not suffer financial disadvantage as a result of changes to student numbers due to A level regrading. It is, however, too early to determine how much funding individual institutions might need, but the costs are not likely to be high given the relatively small number of students affected.

The A level claims Fund has been established to meet the legitimate costs of students who are able to transfer and students have until 31 January 2003 to apply. The Fund can meet accommodation, books, travel and where necessary tuition fees. We expect the costs falling to the Fund to be small.

A maximum of #105,000 has been set aside for Mike Tomlinson's Inquiry.

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the implications of the admission of downgraded A-level students to university for the admission of (a) other EU and (b) overseas students. [74666]

Margaret Hodge [holding answer 15 October 2002]: All of the 168 UCAS applicants who, as a result of regrading of their A-levels, may now have the necessary grades to make them eligible for transfer to their first or second choice institution. As all are from the UK, and none are from EU countries other than the UK or from overseas, there will be no implication for these students.

Accommodation Centres (Education Facilities)

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether educational facilities in accommodation centres will have (a) a special educational needs co-ordinator and (b) classroom assistants trained to assist with special educational needs. [76939]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: The staffing mix in accommodation centres will mirror as closely as possible that of a typical maintained school. The centres will have sufficient experienced and trained staff to meet the needs of most pupils with SEN.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her estimate is of the number of (a) teachers and (b) classroom assistants that will be required to teach a total of 120 children in Years 1 to 13 in accommodation centres. [76940]

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Mr. Stephen Twigg: My right hon. Friend has made no such estimate. She has, however, made clear that the composition of the teaching staff in accommodation centres should mirror as closely as possible that of maintained schools and be appropriate to the needs of the children concerned.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether children in accommodation centres will be (a) allowed and (b) required to take GCSEs. [76941]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: There will be no requirement for children in accommodation centres to take GCSE's. However, if a child has the ability to undertake such an examination, they will be able to do so. Each child will be assessed individually and their progress monitored and recorded throughout their stay.

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