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15 Jan 2003 : Column 640W—continued

Education Maintenance Allowance

Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many students in the (a) Wansbeck constituency and (b) County of Northumberland have received the education maintenance allowance. [88157]

Margaret Hodge: The Department does not collect data on the number of students receiving the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for areas smaller than LEA size. The number of students in Northumberland receiving the EMA in each academic year, since the pilot began, is set out in the table.

The figures from 2002–03 are to the 27 December 2002 instead of the end of the academic year as with the 2000–2001 and 2001–2002 figures. As a result, these figures inevitably seem low compared to the other academic years. However, the number of students receiving EMA in December 2002 is also lower than the figure at the same time in the previous academic year. This is primarily due to the key member of the EMA team at Northumberland going on long term sick leave. In fact, the number of applications received in Northumberland is slightly up on the previous year's figures.

Academic yearNumber receiving EMA

(5) Includes students who started courses in the previous year


2002–03 figures are to the 27 December 2002

Ethnic Minorities

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent representations he has received on EMAG policy and funding distribution. [89598]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: The Department has received representations or enquiries from 10 Local Education Authorities and two schools about the current arrangements for distributing EMAG.

IT Support

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on progress in providing a laptop computer with internet access and ICT support to every teacher (a) in the UK and (b) in Leyton and Wanstead; and when he expects the policy to be fully implemented. [90457]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Laptops for Teachers initiative launched at the BETT show in January 2002 is open to all eligible teachers in England. To date LEAs have been given #60 million to purchase laptop computers on behalf of their schools and so far over 60,000 laptop computers have been bought.

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I announced on 9 January 2003 a #195 million extension of this initiative to April 2006, making the total amount of funding #300 million. This will result in two thirds of all eligible teachers benefiting from personal access to a laptop computer over the four year period of this initiative.

In May 2002 Waltham Forest and Redbridge LEAs, who are responsible for Leyton and Wanstead were allocated a total of #597,156 and have to date spent a total of #463,801 purchasing 453 laptop computers.

School Standards

Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate he has made of the cost of proposals contained within the document, 'Time for Standards'; and what discussions he has had with the Treasury on the document. [89365]

Mr. Miliband: Within the Government's agreed spending plans, we estimate that the cost of workforce reform will rise to some #1 billion per annum by 2005–06. This is well within the #6 billion planned increase in school budgets to be achieved by that year. These spending plans and the proposals in XTime for Standards" naturally carry the support of the Treasury.

Sure Start (Rural Areas)

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many applications there have been for the Sure Start scheme in rural areas since its launch; how many have been accepted; and what the average amount spent on each bid has been to date. [88143]

Maria Eagle: In rolling out Sure Start local programmes, we have invited local authority districts with large rural areas to establish a rural programme. Fifteen local authority districts have put forward an identifiably rural area as the location for their Sure Start local programme. These have all been accepted. The average level of revenue funding when programmes become fully operational—which is the third year of operation—is around #750,000 (this includes two programmes which are currently being developed as part of the 6th wave and their funding has not yet been finalised). Capital funding ranging from #750,000 to #900,000 has also been committed to each rural programme. This is based on the capital strategy submitted by each individual programme and is intended to fund major capital projects in the first three years of operation.

In addition, we are supporting a pilot project of 50 Mini Sure Start programmes in rural areas and areas with pockets of deprivation. These programmes cover areas where the number of disadvantaged children living in a defined area is considerably less than the 800 required for a typical full programme and so would not be covered by the traditional Sure Start model. The Mini Sure Start programmes are building on existing services like Neighbourhood Nurseries or other facilities delivering children's services and using Sure Start funding to deliver outreach and additional health work. Of the 50 Mini Sure Start pilots, 29 are specifically in rural areas. Average revenue grant for these

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programmes across the financial years 2002–03 and 2003–04 is #110,000. Capital funding of up to #250,000 has also been made available.


Embryo Research

Bob Spink : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what action she will take to prevent a conflict between the Polkinghorne guidelines on separation and the MRC initiative to target IVF clinics to make more embryonic stem cells available via the donation of embryos; [89042]

Ms Hewitt: Regulations were introduced in January 2001 to extend the purposes for which human embryos may be used in research. The regulations enable the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to issue a licence for research for the purposes of increasing knowledge about the development of embryos and serious disease and to enable such knowledge to be applied in developing treatments for serious disease.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) has taken the lead, in collaboration with the UK regulatory authorities (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, Department of Health, Medicines Control Agency) and other funding agencies, in generating a co-ordinated national stem cell strategy. As part of this, MRC has appointed the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control to set up a UK Stem Cell Bank for the curation and distribution of ethically sourced, quality controlled human adult, foetal and embryonic stem (ES) cell lines.

MRC, HFEA, the Department of Health and the Medicines Control Agency are collaborating to generate a UK-wide framework that will include: provision for oversight of national activities in stem cell research, standard donor information and consent forms, and route maps for researchers wishing to develop, bank and use stem cell lines for research and therapeutic purposes.

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The HFEA license will require that samples of all ES cell lines be deposited in the UK stem cell bank. This will reduce the number of embryos required as individual researchers will not need to generate their own stem cell lines.

In relation to the Call for Expressions of Interest in establishing consortia, applicants will be able to request pump priming support for up to three years. It is expected that more substantial support would be sought through conventional grant schemes. Examples for which funds might be sought through this call include:

The Polkinghorne guidelines refer to the use of foetal tissue. The House of Lords Select Committee report on Stem Cell Research (February 2002) recommends the separation of clinical and research roles to be standard practice for donation of eggs and embryos. MRC will adhere to this recommendation in funding stem cell research. The nurse co-ordinators mentioned in the Call will be employed by the IVF clinics and will ensure that the donor couple fully understands the aims of the research and that it might reveal information about their health. The nurse co-ordinators will never become engaged in the research, but will liaise with the researchers to inform them if embryos become available.

It is illegal in the UK for payment to be made for the donation of gametes (nominal expenses are provided however). MRC will not under any circumstances contribute to the costs of IVF treatment for those couples who choose to donate embryos for research. Donation will be entirely voluntary and by the free will of the couples involved. The decision to donate or not to donate will have no effect on their IVF treatment.

Additionally, as recommended by the Select Committee, a high level Oversight Body has been established, chaired by Lord Patel, that will be responsible for the custody of stem cell lines, ensuring their purity and provenance, monitoring their use, and for establishing codes of practice for the use of ES cells, whether obtained from the bank or imported from elsewhere. The committee will review on a case by case basis applications to deposit and access ES cell lines and will monitor the use of foetal and adult stem cell lines. The committee reports to MRC Council and will brief Ministers on request.

Clinics undertaking IVF treatment in the UK were asked whether they were interested in participating in the national stem cell initiative. A list of these clinics is available in the HFEA website ( Those that expressed an interest were invited to attend a meeting at MRC Head Office and were subsequently sent an invitation to submit an expression of interest in establishing a consortium to develop collaborations. The process is ongoing, with the deadline for submissions of interest being 31 January 2003. It is not known yet how many applications will be submitted,

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nor the level of support requested or to be awarded. When awards are made, they will be published on the MRC website in the usual way.

Stem cell research will be conducted on embryos that are surplus to IVF treatment needs and would otherwise be discarded. The MRC does not know how many surplus embryos are discarded and cannot know how many surplus embryos will be donated for stem cell research.

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