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13 Mar 2003 : Column 394W—continued

Immigration Detainees

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many immigration detainees are being held in prisons. [102467]

Beverley Hughes: The latest available data on the number of persons detained solely under Immigration Act 1971 powers relate to 28 December 2002. As at that date, 215 persons (to the nearest five) were being detained in Prison Service accommodation of which 110 are recorded as having claimed asylum at some stage.

The routine use of Prison Service accommodation for immigration detainees ended at the beginning of 2002, but it remains necessary to hold small numbers of

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detainees in prison for reasons of control and security. The figure of 215 may also include individuals who are held pending deportation on completion of custodial sentences.

Information on Immigration Act detainees as at 29 March 2003 will be published on 30 May 2003 on the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate website at


Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further action he is taking to prevent racially and religiously motivated attacks on Muslims; and if he will make a statement. [100584]

Beverley Hughes: The Government are committed to tackling hate crime regardless of what form it takes.

The criminal law already contains a wide range of powers to deal with violent behaviour and harassment. This includes, under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, the ability for courts to issue higher sentences to perpetrators of crimes motivated by racial hatred. These measures send a clear message that the Government will not tolerate these types of crimes.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), working with the Government, have developed guidance for police forces on dealing with these types of crime (including racially and religiously motivated crime). This guidance is entitled "Identifying and Combating Hate Crime" and was last updated in April 2002.

Additionally, ACPO has produced an Operational Guide for the Management of Inter Ethnic Conflict, which will ultimately aim to improve officers ability to understand, communicate and interact with the many diverse communities.

The police service seeks to maintain strong links with representatives of Muslim communities. The Muslim Safety Forum, which brings together representatives of Muslim communities and the police meets every month to consider any issues of concern.

Women's Prisons

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the report by the Youth Justice Board on the detention of teenage girls in women's prisons. [101344]

Hilary Benn: The Youth Justice Board (YJB) is responsible for the commissioning and purchasing of secure accommodation for under 18s and for the placement of individual offenders.

On 18 February the YJB announced its intention to remove all under 17-year-old girls from Prison Service accommodation during 2003. There are currently no 15-year-old girls in Prison Service accommodation, and around 20 16-year-olds.

This is in line with the commitment given by the then Home Secretary in March 1999 when he said that he intended to use the greater flexibility provided by the detention and training order to place sentenced 15 and

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16-year-old girls in available non-Prison Service accommodation. The detention and training order came into force in April 2000.


Courts (Salisbury)

Mr. Key: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when he will announce plans for the co-location of the Crown court and magistrates court in Salisbury. [102183]

Yvette Cooper: Wiltshire magistrates courts committee and Wiltshire county council are undertaking a feasibility study into the provision of a new combined crown, county and magistrates court facility in Salisbury. Once this feasibility study has been completed (expected to be at the end of March); and the outline business case has been approved, which on current plans will be during April, an announcement on future plans will be made.


Orders in Council

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Council how many Orders in Council in 2002 were made under (a) the prerogative and (b) an Act of Parliament. [103042]

Mr. Robin Cook: A total of 526 Orders in Council were made in 2002, of which 372 were made under an Act or Measure and 154 were made under the Prerogative. The Orders approved at each Council meeting are listed on the Privy Council Office website ( and copies are placed in the Library of the House. The majority of Prerogative Orders related to the appointment of Ministers and Privy Councillors, the private affairs of Chartered bodies, and Channel Islands business. The majority of statutory Orders were confirmations of Church Commissioners' schemes under the Pastoral Measure 1983.

Privy Council

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Council how many times the Privy Council met in 2002; and how many privy councillors were present on each occasion. [103041]

Mr. Robin Cook: The Privy Council met on 14 occasions in 2002. Details are given in the table:

Date of CouncilNumber of Privy Councillors present
14 January3
23 January3
12 February6 (of whom 2 were new Councillors attending to be sworn in)
26 March6 (of whom 2 were new Councillors attending to be sworn in)
17 April4
22 May7 (of whom 3 were new Councillors attending to be sworn in)
31 May5
26 June3
16 July7 (of whom 2 were new Councillors attending to be sworn in)
22 October5 (of whom one was a new Councillors attending to be sworn in)
29 October5
5 November4
20 November8 (of whom 4 were new Councillors attending to be sworn in)
17 December6 (of whom one was new Councillors attending to be sworn in)

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Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Council on what basis privy councillors are selected to sit on ad hoc committees of the Council. [103043]

Mr. Robin Cook: Nowadays such committees are established only to consider petitions from bodies seeking a Royal Charter. Their business is conducted in correspondence. Those involved in the correspondence are those Privy Councillors with ministerial responsibility for the area of the body's activities and the Law Officers.


Further Education

10. Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to establish a further education national training organisation. [102712]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Formal Government recognition of national training organisations, including FENTO, the further education NTO, ended in March 2002. This is part of a UK-wide transition to Sector Skills Councils representing wider employment sectors. FENTO continues to deliver a number of essential functions and has operated with assistance from the Sector Skills Development Agency and the department during this transition period.

Good progress is being made towards developing an employer-led Sector Skills Council proposal covering the workforce in the higher education, further education, work-based and community-based learning sectors. This development will support the delivery of Success for All and the Higher Education strategy and enable employers to look strategically at the UK learning sector for the first time.

Children's Centres

11. Ms Coffey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions he has had with local education authorities about guidelines for the new children's centres. [102713]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: Officials have been taking forward detailed discussions with local authorities on this issue. The Sure Start Unit issued children's centre guidance to local authorities at the end of February. Prior to this, a series of stakeholder events were held to enable local authorities and other key partners to feed in their views. In the coming weeks officials will be meeting with every local authority due to receive children's centre funding, as they start their strategic planning.

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Higher Education

12. Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions he has had with the Scottish Executive regarding the White Paper on higher education. [102714]

Margaret Hodge: The White Paper "The future of higher education" (Cm 5735) states that there will be discussions with the devolved Administrations about the impact on the other UK countries of the proposals for student and institutional funding for higher education institutions in England. Initial discussions between officials have already begun, and I expect them to continue over the coming months.

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) assessed on the relationship between A level points scores and class of final degree; and if he will make a statement. [101041]

Margaret Hodge [holding answer 10 March 2003]: The Department has not commissioned research into the relationship between A level points scores and class of final degree. However, it has reviewed a number of research projects in this area including:

i) "Determinants of degree performance in UK universities: a statistical analysis of the 1993 student cohort" by Jeremy Smith and Robin Naylor at Warwick University. This was published in 2001 in the Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 63, 29–60. It found that

ii) "School Performance and the Likelihood of getting into Bristol" by Jeff Odell in 1999. This found that, on the whole, of all the students who entered the University of Bristol with excellent A levels, those who came from weaker schools gained better degrees than the students from stronger schools.

iii) "Gender Differences in Educational Attainment: The Case of University Students in England and Wales" by Robert McNabb, Sarmistha Pal and Peter Sloane was published in Economica in 2002. This found that A-level point scores have a strong positive effect on degree attainment.

iv) "Who does best at university" HEFCE 2002 concluded that young full-time entrants with lower A level points scores are more likely to drop out, to repeat years and, if they graduate, they are less likely to get a good degree. The authors also argue that admissions tutors should be exploring new ways (in addition to A level attainment) to identify performance. This report can be downloaded from HEFCE's website at The HEFCE are continuing to refine and develop their analysis and a fuller report will be published later this year.

v) "Fair Enough? Wider access to university by identifying potential to succeed". This was published in 2003 by UUK. It identified objective criteria to build on existing systems and more accurately predict applicants' potential, particularly those from backgrounds not

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traditionally associated with higher education. This can be downloaded from

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions he has had with higher education institutions to ensure that they take account of changes to the curriculum proposed in "14 to 19: Opportunity for Excellence". [102710]

Margaret Hodge: Representatives from higher education were invited to each of the 58 regional consultation workshops on the 14 to 19 Green Paper, along with representatives from secondary education, further education colleges, employers and other stakeholders. Additional events were also held to discuss the proposals with representatives from higher education including a presentation of the proposals to the Universities UK main Committee of Vice Chancellors.

The Working Group for 14 to 19 Reform, chaired by Mike Tomlinson, will consult a range of interested bodies, including higher education institutions, as it considers the longer-term agenda for change and develops its proposals for a new unified qualifications framework. The Group's membership includes two University Vice Chancellors.

Our regional consultations on the White Paper, "The Future of Higher Education", will include discussion of the development of more work-based degrees such as Foundation Degrees and progression from the 14 to 19 phase to higher education.

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