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Catering Costs

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much has been spent on (a) entertainment lunches involving civil servants and guests and (b) working lunches, in each year since 1997. [215039]

Derek Twigg: I refer the hon. Member to the answer provided on 17 January 2005, Official Report, column 816W. The Department's accounting system does not differentiate between entertainment lunches and working lunches. All expenditure on official entertainment is made in accordance with published departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on the principles set out in Government Accounting.

Child Care

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the role of the provision of culturally sensitive child care in facilitating Muslim women's ability to work outside the home. [220804]

Margaret Hodge: The Government are fully committed to ensuring that regular reviews of provision are undertaken locally and nationally to ensure services are inclusive and sensitive to the needs of all communities, including the Muslim community.

We have taken a proactive stance to identify the issues, consider their underlying causes, explore potential solutions and establish successful approaches to all communities where they are needed.

Available information seems to show that Bangladeshi and Pakistani families are the least likely to be using childcare and the most likely to have very low levels of maternal employment.

We have commissioned a secondary analysis of the Parents Demand for Childcare Survey datasets to explore further ethnic minority group parents' use of, demand for and views on childcare over the period 1999–2001 by examining combined data from the baseline and repeat surveys. This research report is due to be published by the Department on Thursday 31 March.
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As the data are not collected by faith groups, we will need to use the ethnic definitions of Bangladeshi and Pakistani groupings. Although the analysed data were collected in 1999 and 2001, we will be examining the findings closely to help us better understand why Muslim families seem to be less engaged with local formal childcare services.

Various studies as well as practice feedback that we have had from the experience of many Sure Start local programmes and other local childcare services show that when childcare provision is culturally sensitive Muslim families are much more likely to access services.

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps the Government are taking to ensure that additional child care places will expand the provision of child care within and for Muslim communities in a culturally sensitive way. [220805]

Margaret Hodge: The Government are committed to ensuring that all its policies, practices and services are totally inclusive, and do not discriminate against any individual. This principle underpins our strategic guidance to local authorities. Local authorities are also required to adhere to and implement equality and inclusion policies, procedures and practices when developing early years education and childcare services. The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 sets out the requirements with which all listed public authorities must comply.

My Department funded four projects in local authorities during 2003–04 to improve understanding of the practical steps Local authorities and childcare settings can take to ensure childcare provision is responsive to the needs of local black and minority ethnic families and is used by them. A report of findings was produced and distributed to all local authorities. Training has been made available to Children's Information Services and to early years staff to improve their practice. A very wide range of information and resources on topics such as purchasing and using culturally sensitive toys and books and resources for staff about the Muslim culture is available via links on our website to those of other organisations.

The information from these projects is already informing the design and implementation of our current and future childcare initiatives. The Sure Start Unit's own work on childcare is part of the wider DfES plans to ensure that all education services engage with Muslim communities.

In particular, we will ensure that, through the significant expansion of provision in the Government's 10-year strategy on child care, we and our local authority partners work hard to further improve access to culturally sensitive childcare for Muslim families. Finally, our support and inspection arrangements for local authority childcare activities will assess that local authorities ensure local services respond sensitively to the Muslim communities in their area.

It is vital that the Muslim community and Muslim organisations help to shape policies and programmes to tackle the issues particular to their communities, both at a national and local level. In developing childcare,
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therefore, we will continue to ensure there is consultation and involvement of the community at local and national level.

Departmental Expenditure Breakdown

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list miscellaneous programmes under the headings (a) schools, (b) support for children, young people and families, (c) higher education, (d) further education, adult learning and skills and lifelong learning and (e) activities to support all functions in her Department's expenditure plans for 2004. [221223]

Derek Twigg: A list showing all the programmes included as miscellaneous entries in the Departmental Annual Report is as follows.

(a) Schools

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(b) Support for children

(c) Higher Education

(d) Further education, adult learning and skills and lifelong learning

(e) Activities to support all functions

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