Previous Section Index Home Page

4 Nov 2002 : Column 26W—continued

School Tranpsort

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to provide free school bus services for secondary school students in Staffordshire living less than three miles from their schools. [78458]

4 Nov 2002 : Column 27W

Mr. Stephen Twigg: Staffordshire county council's bid under the Rural Bus Challenge will be assessed over the next two months by officials in the Department for Transport. They aim to announce the successful schemes early in the new year.

Schools Finance (Essex)

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many schools in Essex suffered a cash budget cut in this financial year. [78478]

Mr. Miliband: In Essex local education authority 86 schools had a fall in their cash budget share in 2002–03, but of these only three also had a fall in their cash budget share per pupil. Changes in pupil numbers are the principal reason for changes in budget share from year to year. 493 schools had a rise in their cash budget share, but of these 20 had a fall in their cash budget share per pupil: this was largely in cases where rising rolls led to a lessening of the factor which protects the smallest primary schools.

The information is taken from data published in the LEAs section 52 budget statements for 2001–02 and 2002–03.

Special Educational Needs

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what powers he has to make provision for the assessment of special educational needs of children living in accommodation centres. [77803]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: Clause 28(1)(f) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill provides Government with the power to provide education in an accommodation centre. Clause 35(7) states that the education provider shall make appropriate facilities available for a child with special educational needs unless it is incompatible with the special educational provision his learning difficulty calls for; the provision of efficient education for other children resident in the centre; or the efficient use of resources. Clause 35(9)(b) empowers the education provider to ask the LEA to conduct a statutory assessment of a child's SEN, under section 329A of the Education Act 1996.

An LEA's duties under Part IV of the Education Act 1996 to assess, and where necessary, to make provision for children in their area who are of compulsory school age and have special educational needs, will apply to children residing in accommodation centres as such children will be in the area of a LEA for the purposes of this part of the 1996 Act.

Specialist Schools

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many specialist schools were designated before 1 September 1997; how many such schools and what percentage of the whole were (a) city technology colleges and (b) grant maintained schools; and what the average percentage was of children in receipt of free school meals in (i) specialist schools designated prior to 1 September 1997 and (ii) city technology colleges and grant maintained schools designated as specialist schools before 1 September 1997. [77012]

4 Nov 2002 : Column 28W

Mr. Miliband: The information requested is as follows:

Standards Fund

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what amounts per pupil his Department paid to English local education authorities out of the standards fund in 2001–02; [78456]

Mr. Miliband: The figures showing the amounts allocated to English local education authorities in 2000–01, 2001–02 and 2002–03 to date have been placed in the Library. Education standard spending is an assessment of need rather than grant. Decisions on the new assessment formula for education will be announced in early December. Other special and specific grants include recurrent grants relating to pupils aged 4–19, and exclude grants for children aged below four years and education maintenance allowances.

Student Loans

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what plans he has to increase the interest rate on student loans; and if he will make a statement. [78778]

Margaret Hodge: We intend to publish a strategy document setting out our vision for the development and reform of higher education, including the outcome of the student support review, in January. We will set out our policies on student loans and post 16 student support in that document.



Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has

4 Nov 2002 : Column 29W

had with the US Government about the delivery of aid to Afghanistan; and if she will make a statement. [76953]

Clare Short: During a recent visit to Washington and a return visit to London I met the head of USAID Andrew Natsios, during which we discussed the situation in Afghanistan. We noted that considerable progress had been made and an estimated $1.3 billion of $1.8 billion pledged at Tokyo for Afghanistan had now been disbursed. However, much remains to be done. I also met with General McNeill in Afghanistan last week to discuss humanitarian and security issues. We will continue to work with UN and bilateral agencies to try to ensure that Afghanistan's humanitarian needs are properly resourced.

I have also recently agreed to contribute towards clearance of Afghanistan's outstanding arrears to the Asia Development Bank and World Bank in order that more finance can be made available for the reconstruction effort.

Mr. Laurence Robertson : Asked the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with ministers from other governments who promised aid to Afganistan and are yet to deliver it; and if she will make a statement. [76952]

Clare Short : All the major donors were represented at an Afghanistan Implementation Group meeting held in Kabul in mid October. This meeting revealed that delivery of pledges was now less of a problem than had previously been the case, with the overall picture looking good: of the $1.8 billion pledged at Tokoyo for 2002, it is estimated that up to $1.3 billion has been disbursed. The key issue as set out by the Afghans at the IG is now that future support is channelled in the most effective way in accordance with Afghanistan's budget priorities.

Agricultural Commodities

Tony Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if it is her policy to support (a) co-operation between coffee producing governments to stop more beans entering the market than can be sold and (b) the scheme agreed by coffee producing governments to reduce supply by increasing the quality of coffee traded. [78053]

Clare Short: The UK Government support the objectives of the 2001 International Coffee Agreement. Co-operation between coffee producing governments to restrict supplies entering the market has been pursued a number of times in the past without much success. The Coffee Retention Plan agreed in 2000 by the Association of Coffee Producing Countries was formally abandoned earlier this year.

The International Coffee Organisation (ICO) Quality Initiative started on 1 October 2002 and has the backing of all ICO producing and consuming countries. The scheme is voluntary and requests that producer members do not export coffee below certain standards set by the organisation. Although the scheme has deficiencies and may cause problems for some exporters it is seen by most producers as a step in the right direction.

4 Nov 2002 : Column 30W

Tony Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps her Department is taking to assist producer countries in capturing more value from agricultural commodities. [78055]

Clare Short: DFID is working with developing countries to strengthen their capacity in trade. We are also working to tackle tariff and non-tariff barriers to developing country agricultural exports, especially those that exist in the European Union. It is also important to ensure that a greater proportion of value added, including through processing, is retained in the developing country of origin. DFID provides support to initiatives that provide more timely market information, contributes to improvements in essential infrastructure (including energy and transport) and works to ensure appropriate legal regulatory frameworks exist to promote investment.

Next Section Index Home Page