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2 Dec 2004 : Column 206W—continued

Victoria Square

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress is being made on redeveloping Victoria Square, Belfast. [200906]

Mr. Spellar: Further to the answer I gave on 18 November 2004, Official Report, column 1775W, Churchill House was successfully imploded on 21 November.


Crown Prosecution Service

23. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Solicitor-General if she will make a statement on the work of the Crown Prosecution Service in North Yorkshire. [201251]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service in North Yorkshire is working with the police and the courts to bring offenders to justice and to ensure people can have confidence in the criminal justice system.

Last year's inspection finds their casework decision-making to be "good".

The CPS is bringing persistent young offenders before the courts speedily and they are reducing the number of cases which do not result in a guilty plea or conviction after trial.

Mr. Allen: To ask the Solicitor-General what interaction takes place between local police officers and local lawyers of the Crown Prosecution Service in Nottinghamshire to improve mutual understanding of the process from arrest to charge; and if she will make a statement. [201252]

The Solicitor-General: The principal interaction between local prosecutors and police officers is through the charging scheme, which was implemented in
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Nottinghamshire on 5 July 2004. Early consultation between police officers and duty prosecutors takes place in over 1,000 cases a month in Nottinghamshire. This promotes and encourages the prosecution team approach towards the common goal of bringing offenders to justice.

Additionally the CPS and police meet every month to examine management information and to learn lessons, identify issues and training needs and to consider any changes required to further improve arrangements. For example, consideration is currently being given to opening further charging centres in local police stations to reduce waiting times for officers and ensure the charging advice scheme is more convenient for police officers.

I understand that my hon. Friend met a senior official in the Crown Prosecution Service to discuss the new charging arrangements. A scheduled review is shortly to take place when the issue you have raised will be examined. A report will be sent to my hon. Friend shortly about the findings.

Evidential Test

25. Tony Lloyd: To ask the Solicitor-General what recent discussions she has had with the Crown Prosecution Service about the strength of the evidential test needed to bring a case to court. [201254]

The Solicitor-General: The evidential test for public prosecutions is set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Attorney-General and I maintain a close interest in the code. A revised edition was published last month and a copy is available in the House of Commons Library.

But the evidential test remains the same, namely whether there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction. This is an objective test which means that a jury or bench of magistrates, properly directed in accordance with the law, is more likely than not to convict the defendant of the charge alleged.


Alderman Knight School

13. Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the recent poll held in Tewkesbury borough with respect to the future of Alderman Knight School. [201240]

Margaret Hodge: Under arrangements introduced in the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, the consideration of proposals for establishing, altering, or discontinuing maintained special schools are a matter for local decision making. It is for the local School Organisation Committee to take into consideration any objections received when they make their decision on proposals.
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Children's Diet (Behaviour)

15. Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research he is undertaking into the relationship between diet and behaviour of children in schools. [201242]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: The Department for Education and Skills is not undertaking any research into the relationship between diet and behaviour of children in schools. However, the Food Standards Agency is currently carrying out research into the impact of food additives on children's behaviour.

Science Teaching

16. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the teaching of practical science in schools. [201243]

Mr. Miliband: Exciting science practical work has a key part to play in delivering inspiring science lessons. We are improving teacher skills and confidence in practical work through the national network of Science Learning Centres, our £51 million partnership with the Wellcome Trust. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority have developed a new Programme of Study for science at Key Stage 4: which gives greater flexibility and has more emphasis on practical understanding of science. science.

17. Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to increase the number of students studying science and technology subjects at A level. [201244]

Dr. Howells: The Government's 10 Year Investment Framework for Science and Innovation outlined our plans to enthuse more students to achieve in science and technology and study these subjects at A level. We said we would improve science teaching, addressing recruitment of science teachers and providing access to continuing professional development. Through the new Programme of Study for science at Key Stage 4, we are ensuring the science taught in schools inspires learners to pursue further study.

Building Schools for the Future

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidance he has issued to local authorities which have successfully bid for Building Schools for the Future funding. [201237]

Mr. Miliband: Comprehensive guidance has been issued to all authorities within Building Schools for the Future, from both the Department and its delivery partners, partnerships for Schools. This covers a wide range of areas; how to develop and Education Vision for local areas, the funding assumptions underpinning the programme, establishing a project team, the latest developments in school design and ICT, value for money procurement, and how to prepare a successful business case for final funding approval. The core guidance documents issued include BSF Wave 1 (or 2 as appropriate) Overview for Local Authorities, which covers all key areas from Education Visions to funding, design and procurement; "Building Schools for the Future": "Local Authority Education Vision—Guidelines for Wave 1" (or 2 as appropriate), which
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covers the whole range of policy areas and expectations from school organisation to the 14–19 agenda; "Guidance for Local Authorities on Improved joined-up Planning and Funding": and "Prioritisation and Forward Planning Information", which details how we prioritised local authority projects for investment, and how they can best plan ahead of Building Schools for the Future.

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list the refurbishment projects for (a) schools under the Building Schools for the Future programme, (b) colleges and (c) his Department's buildings that (i) are in progress and (ii) that will start in the next six months; what action is being taken to ensure that these will procure timber from legal and sustainable sources; and whether guidance will be issued to contractors on each of these projects to ensure that the timber used on-site during refurbishment also comes from legal and sustainable sources. [201591]

Mr. Miliband: Funding for Building Schools for the Future is not fully available until 2005–06. While it is not possible to forecast, at this stage, how many projects will start building work at the beginning of that financial year, a limited number of wave 1 projects are expected to start building work within the next 6 months.

There is no specific guidance available on the procurement of legal and sustainably sourced timer as part of the BSF. However, recently we have launched BREEAM-Schools (Building Research Establishment's Environmental Assessment Method) which will help schools, local authorities and dioceses to set environmental targets for new school buildings and major refurbishments and help designers to improve the environmental performance of their buildings. All schools supported by Government funding should aim for a very good or excellent rating. Within BREEAM there are two optional credits available where timber and wood products used in structural and non-structural elements are responsibly sourced (legal and sustainable) or utilised reused and recycled timber. There are also other credits available in BREEAM which promote the use of timber as it has a low environmental impact.

All of the Department's funds for post-16 learning and skills sector capital investment are allocated to the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). The LSC has sole responsibility for the programme of renewing and replacing the FE estate. This is an operational matter for the LSC. Mr Haysom, the Council's Chief Executive, will write to the hon. Member about this matter and provide the information that he has asked for. A copy of this reply will be placed in the House Library.

My Department has no refurbishment projects in progress and no future plans that will call for the use of timber.

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what progress his Department is making with the Building Better Schools programme. [201660]

Mr. Miliband: We are making excellent progress with Building Schools for the Future. On Tuesday, I announced the 20 new authorities in waves two and three, which will develop projects aiming to sing in 2006–07 and 2007–08. This brings to 39 the number of
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local authorities in the programme: over a quarter of the total. About 380 schools will benefit from £6.5 billion of investment being allocated over the next three years. We have established Partnerships for Schools to help authorities develop their projects. We have published a range of exemplar designs for schools, which have been well received. Two of the wave one authorities have had their outline business cases approved and are now moving to procurement; other have submitted or will submit their cases shortly for consideration.

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