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25 Nov 2002 : Column 94W—continued

Skills Base

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent analysis has been

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carried out by the Learning and Skills Council of the skills base in coalfield areas compared to the national average. [82276]

Margaret Hodge: This is a matter for the Learning and Skills Council. John Harwood, the Council's Chief Executive, will write to the hon. Member with the information requested and a copy of his reply will be placed in the Library.

Special Educational Needs

Julie Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if a child who is assessed as having special educational needs which are best met in a mainstream maintained school will be permitted to attend such a school; and if the LEA will have a duty to find a school place for that child. [81052]

Mr. Stephen Twigg [holding answer 18 November 2002]: If no statement is maintained for a child, they must be educated in a mainstream school. Children with statements of special educational needs should also be taught in a mainstream school and the LEA should find a place for them where parents wish it, and it is not incompatible with the efficient education of other children. This will also apply to accommodation centre residents who subsequently remain in this country after leaving the centre. For children and their parents who are resident in an accommodation centre, local education authorities will be able to disapply the relevant provisions of the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 to name a mainstream school in a child's statement, having carried out a statutory assessment of a child's special educational needs, if they consider that the accommodation centre or a special school will not be able to meet the child's needs. We would, however, expect local education authorities to take this course of action only rarely, and the great majority of children will have their special educational needs met appropriately in the accommodation centres.

Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what education a child with special educational needs who is living in an accommodation centre will receive while their assessment is in the process of being completed. [81069]

Mr. Stephen Twigg [holding answer 18 November 2002]: Children with special educational needs will continue to receive education in accommodation centres while they are being assessed. Education provided within the accommodation centres will have the same broad range and be of equivalent quality to that provided in mainstream schools, including support through School Action and School Action Plus under the Special needs Code of Practice.

Student Loans

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to change the interest rates charged to students who receive loans from the Student Loans Company. [82418]

Margaret Hodge: We have announced our intention to publish a strategy document setting out our vision for the development and reform of higher education, including the outcome of the review of student support.

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The document will be published in January; it would not be right to pre-empt it here by saying what is or what is not planned.

University Merger (London)

Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether he has been consulted on the proposed merger of Imperial College and University College, London. [82420]

Margaret Hodge: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has not been consulted. I understand that Imperial College and University College, London announced their decision not to merge on 18 November.


Credit Card Fraud

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what he estimates the annual cost of credit card fraud to be in the UK economy; [80735]

Mr. Denham: The Home Office does not compile estimates of the cost of credit card fraud and this information is not available from police recorded crime statistics.

In the publication, X2002: Fraud in Focus", the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS) estimated the losses from cheque, debit and credit or charge card fraud at £317 million in 2000 and £411.4 million in 2001. APACS recently estimated losses in the 12months to August 2002 at £429.4 million.

I met representatives of APACS in January 2002 to discuss the establishment of a joint national cheque and credit card fraud squad. The Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Card Unit came into existence in April 2002, with funding provided by both the private sector and the Government. Home Office officials hold quarterly meetings with representatives from APACS and the British Bankers Association (BBA) to monitor the Unit's progress.

In addition, Home Office officials hold regular discussions with key representatives from the credit card companies and the banking industry about credit card fraud and progress of the project to introduce microchips into payment cards to help their authentication and personal identification numbers (PINs) in place of signatures.

Hearsay Evidence

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to amend the treatment of hearsay evidence. [80499]

Hilary Benn: Under the proposals set out in the Government White Paper, XJustice for All", we will allow reported evidence, 'hearsay', to be included in criminal proceedings if there is a good reason for the original maker not to be able to give evidence personally

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(e.g. through illness or death); or where records have been reliably compiled by businesses. In these circumstances, the evidence should automatically go in. The courts would also have the powers to decide that other evidence of this sort can be given, with certain safeguards.

Furthermore, under these reforms, witnesses' previous and original statements would be more widely admissible at trials in order to make it easier for them to give their evidence.

Police Constables (Nottinghamshire)

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans have been made for the recruiting of additional Special Constables in Nottinghamshire Constabulary's 'B' Division. [80699]

Mr. Denham: We recognise that the Special Constabulary has a vital role to play in reducing crime and providing reassurance to the public.

We are working with stakeholders on a variety of measures to help forces improve the recruitment, management and deployment of Specials, including good practice guidance.

We have set aside £300,000 to help XSpecials Champions" drive forward initiatives to support the development of the guidance. The XChampions Initiative" will help identify effective local recruitment practices and procedures, including recruitment from visible ethnic minority communities and also other groups which, traditionally, have been harder to attract to the special constabulary.

Taser M26

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his assessment is of the deterrent capabilities of the Taser M26. [80624]

Mr. Denham: The deterrent capabilities of Taser were considered by the Home Office's Police Scientific Development Branch in their second phase report on less lethal technology, which was published in November 2001.

Trial by Jury

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent representations he has received on trial by jury. [80498]

Hilary Benn: The responses to the consultation exercise are currently being considered. I will arrange to publish them in due course.

Anti-social Behaviour Orders

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many anti-social behaviour orders have been issued since their introduction in (a) Chesham and Amersham and (b) Buckinghamshire; and if he will make a statement. [81177]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 19 November 2002]: An anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) is a civil order made by a court which currently can be applied for by a local authority or the police. There have not been any

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notifications received by the Home Office of ASBOs issued within the Chiltern district council local government area, which includes Chesham and Amersham. The table shows the number of notifications received by the Home Office of ASBOs issued within Buckinghamshire by local government authority up to 30 June 2002 (latest available).

We are aware that the numbers of ASBOs made locally have been consistently under reported in returns made by magistrates courts and are considering how reporting can be improved.

Number of anti-social behaviour orders reported to the Home Office which have been issued as from 1 April 1999 to 30 June 2002 within Buckinghamshire by local government authority

AreaFrom 1 April 1999 to 31 May 2000(7)From 1 June 2000 to 30 June 2002Total
Police force area/MCC
Thames Valley1(8)910
Local government authority
County of Buckinghamshire
Milton Keynes BC(9)33
Wycombe DC(9)22

(7) Total figure only available for Thames Valley police force area within this period. Local government authority not known.

(8) Includes total figure for counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire

(9) Not available.

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