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9 Dec 2002 : Column 105Wcontinued
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what comparison has been made of places for careers among school leavers by the careers service in coalfield areas, compared to the national average. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg: Information in the following table has been taken from the annual activity survey of all school leavers in the autumn of the year they complete compulsory education undertaken by Careers Services and Connexions Partnerships. This data relates to all school leavers from the 20002001 academic year. It has not been possible to match the data exactly to the coalfield areas; data is collected by Education Authority and has been aggregated to provide the closest match possible. Details of areas included are given in the footnote to the table.
The table shows that in the coalfield areas, young people are less likely to be settled in full time education, or training and rely more heavily on government supported training than in non- coalfield areas. The table also shows a higher rate of unemployment for young people living in these areas.
|Total of non coalfield areas||(25) Total of coalfied areas||England|
|Government supported training||3.6||7.4||4.0|
|Not settled in full time education training or employment||7.2||8.4||7.3|
|Not active in labour market||1.1||1.7||1.2|
|No response/move away||5.1||3.8||5.0|
(25) The closest approximation of the coalfield areas includes: Coventry, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, Wakefield, Merseyside, St. Helens, Darlington, Durham, Northumberland, Sunderland
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the European Commission's proposal, COM (2002) 401 final, and the subsequent Council decision to invite students from third countries to participate in European exchange programmes. 
Margaret Hodge: I welcome the European Commission's proposal to establish XErasmus World", which should provide UK universities and colleges with opportunities to attract overseas students, and will enable UK universities to forge useful partnerships with their counterparts in other EU countries. The UK and other member states have expressed some reservations about the funding of the proposal. The Danish Presidency of the European Union has recently circulated a revised version of the proposal. We are considering our position in the light of this.
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Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions regarding extending the eligibility criteria for benefits to students in higher education. 
Margaret Hodge [holding answer 25 November 2002]: We have regular discussions with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about specific student support and benefits issues. Social security is available to certain students in DWP vulnerable groups such as the disabled and lone parents but the general principle is that support for higher education students comes from the education system. There are no plans to change this.
Student support is taken into account in deciding upon the level of benefit payable, but much of the additional financial support for such vulnerable students, for example child care grant, is disregarded for benefit purposes.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the part played by consideration of best value in determining whether surplus schools should be closed. 
Mr. Miliband [holding answer 5 December 2002]: Surplus places can represent poor use of resources. This is why the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister sets annual Best Value Performance Indicators for the percentage of surplus places in an LEA each year. Decisions on whether to close schools are taken by the local School Organisation Committee or, if the Committee cannot agree unanimously, by the independent Schools Adjudicator. Guidance issued by the Secretary of State requires both bodies to consider a range of factors, including standards and access.
Mr. Miliband [holding answer 5 December 2002]: Local education authorities receive funding based on pupil numbers and there are no financial penalties for having surplus school places. While resources devoted to maintaining surplus school places can sometimes be more effectively used to support schools in raising standards, we recognise that in some cases it may not be possible to remove all surplus places due to demographic changes and falling rolls.
Mr. Paul Marsden : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the reason underlying the decision not to shortlist the application by (a) Belvidere School and (b) Mary Webb School for technology college and science college status. 
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Mr. Miliband: In the judgement of our independent assessors, these schools did not meet the published criteria set out in the XGuide for Schools" available to all schools applying for specialist college designation in 200203. Both schools received written feedback from the Department on their individual applications. The feedback should provide a helpful basis on which to make a stronger revised application.
Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of sixth formers in schools in Sittingbourne and Sheppey went to university in (a) 199798, (b) 199899, (c) 19992000 and (d) 200001. 
Margaret Hodge [holding answer 3 December 2002]: Figures for the number of school leavers who go on to higher education are not collated centrally on a constituency basis. The available figures for Great Britain, showing the proportion of under 21-year-olds who enter higher education for the first time from either sixth forms or FE colleges, are given in the table. There was an increase in the index 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 199798 and 200001, total HE students in English universities and colleges rose by 83,000.
(26) The API is defined as the number of GB domiciled initial entrants to full-time and sandwich undergraduate HE aged under 21, expressed as a percentage of the average number of 18 and 19-year-olds in the population.
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(3) whether MI5 files on anti-asbestos campaigners are still live. 
Mr. Blunkett: It has been the longstanding policy of successive Governments to neither confirm nor deny reports concerning Security Service operations. However, the Service has made clear that it has never investigated people simply because they were office-holders or members of campaigning organisations or pressure groups.
Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many individuals were convicted of offences relating to (a) graffiti, (b) excess noise and (c) fly tipping in each of the last 10 years; and what were the (i) maximum and (ii) minimum penalties imposed. 
Hilary Benn [holding answer 2 December 2002]: The available information for England and Wales is shown in the table, and covers the years 1991 to 2000. It is not possible, in the statistics collected centrally, to distinguish offences relating to graffiti from other offences of criminal damage.
|Offence description||Principal statute||Year||Number of persons convicted||Minimum penalty imposed||Maximum penalty imposed|
|Noise on construction sites, operating loudspeakers in the street, exceeding permitted noise level after service of notice and other summary offences||Control of Pollution Act 1974, sections 60 and 62 and Noise Act 1996||1991||33||Absolute discharge||#1,000 fine|
|1992||43||Absolute discharge||#1,000 fine|
|1993||41||Conditional discharge||#2,000 fine|
|1994||44||Conditional discharge||#3,000 fine|
|1995||48||Absolute discharge||#3,000 fine|
|1996||65||Absolute discharge||#3,500 fine|
|1997||58||Conditional discharge||#3,500 fine|
|1998||61||Absolute discharge||#4,000 fine|
|1999||72||#50 fine||#4,000 fine|
|(27)2000||38||Conditional discharge||#2,500 fine|
|Prohibition on authorised or harmful deposit, treatment or disposal etc. of waste (fly tipping)||Environmental Protection Act 1990 sections 33(6), 33(8), 33(9) and 34||1991||4||#200 fine||#500 fine|
|1992||18||Conditional discharge||#1,388 fine|
|1993||104||Absolute discharge||#10,000 fine|
|1994||124||Absolute discharge||3 months imprisonment|
|1995||202||Absolute discharge||18 months imprisonment|
|1996||262||Absolute discharge||18 months imprisonment|
|1997||237||Absolute discharge||18 months imprisonment|
|1998||296||Absolute discharge||2 years imprisonment|
|1999||317||Absolute discharge||8 months imprisonment|
|(27)2000||393||Absolute discharge||18 months imprisonment|
(27) Excluding any convictions at magistrates courts in Staffordshire.
All data are given on a principal offence basis.
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