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6 Dec 2005 : Column 1176W—continued


Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidance she has issued to schools on teachers using sweets to reward pupils' good behaviour or work. [34487]

Jacqui Smith: Our advice on whole school behaviour policy, published as part of the Secondary National Strategy tool kit for schools, does not recommend the use of sweets as a reward. It states:

Schools themselves are in the best position to choose the exact form of reward that positive behaviour merits.

Teacher Recruitment

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent assessment she has made of the impact of the local cost of living on teacher recruitment and retention. [34230]

Jacqui Smith: Recruitment and retention strategies continue to have a positive impact on the number of teachers in England, including London and the south east where cost of living and vacancy rates have always been higher. The latest published figures show a continuing decrease in the number of teachers leaving the profession, while the numbers joining is continuing to grow. In January 2005, 431,900 full-time equivalent regular teachers were employed in maintained schools in England, over 4,000 more than the same time last year.
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Telecommunications Masts

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State forEducation and Skills whether she plans to changedepartmental guidance to schools on objections that schools may raise in connection with telecommunications masts. [34055]

Jacqui Smith: My Department has not issued any guidance to schools in relation to objections that schools may raise in connection with telecommunications masts. We are reviewing information on our Teachernet website about the Stewart Report, the Government response to it, and the Mobile Operators' Association advice, to see if we want to update any of this.

Water Coolers

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to audit the availability of mains-linked water coolers in schools; and if she will make a statement. [34824]

Jacqui Smith: The Department does not have any plans to audit water coolers in schools. Regulation 22 of the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999 requires that every maintained school shall have a wholesome supply of water for domestic purposes, including a supply of drinking water. The regulation does not specify how drinking water should be provided for pupils. However, in our guidance note Standards for School Premises" (DFEE 0029/2000), we say that those responsible should consider the pattern of demand within schools, which can be concentrated within quite short breaks.

Yellow School Buses

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent discussions she has held with the Secretary of State for Transport with regard to yellow school buses. [33880]

Jacqui Smith: The Secretary of State for Education and Skills has not held any discussions with the Secretary of State for Transport on the subject of yellow buses in recent months. However, my Department and the Department for Transport share the view that well-designed yellow bus schemes have the potential to reduce car dependency for journeys to school and the traffic congestion that results from this. We would anticipate that, subject to the will of Parliament, some local authorities might include proposals for yellow bus provision in their bids for the pathfinder schemes envisaged by the recent White Paper—Higher Standards, Better Schools for All.


Departmental Tendering Policy

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what his policy is on including (a) ethical and (b) environmental factors in tenders for services. [33344]

Mr. Hain: In June 2003 the Wales Office became a separate entity within the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) and shares their policies in line with guidance set by the EU Community law.
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The Department acquires contracts in accordance with the general principles of EU Community law, which are non-discrimination, equal treatment, transparency, proportionality, and mutual recognition.

All Environment factors in contracts are considered on a case by case basis relative to the subject matter of the contract, and the requirements of EU Community law.

Freedom of Information

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many Freedom of Information applications his Department has received; how many have taken more than 20 days to process; and how many of these gave rise to complaints about the time taken. [31229]

Mr. Hain: Statistics about requests received under the Freedom of Information Act are published by the Department of Constitutional Affairs on a quarterly basis. In the first six months since January 2005 (when the Act came into force) the figures show that the Wales Office received 49 requests. 42 were answered within the 20 day deadline and four were answered within an agreed extended deadline.

The Wales Office has not received any complaints about the timeliness of responses to Freedom of Information requests.

Winter Deaths

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with his colleagues in the Cabinet and the Welsh Assembly regarding excess winter deaths of those aged over 65 years in Wales. [32086]

Mr. Hain: I regularly meet with the Assembly Ministers to discuss a range of issues such as tackling excess winter deaths of those over 65 in Wales.

The Welsh Assembly Government has policies and actions in place to reduce the impact of colder winter weather on the health of older people. For instance, it funds the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme, which provides the installation of central heating in homes, and runs the annual 'Keep Well This Winter' campaign. This campaign encourages older people to take extra measures to look after their health during the winter such as having the flu vaccination, eating properly and taking appropriate exercise, and by keeping warm and safe.

In addition, in winter 2004–05 over 464,000 households in Wales benefited from winter fuel payments of at least £200. Out of these households, 110,000 with someone aged over 80 received £300 winter fuel payment.


Airspace (Extraordinary Rendition)

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) oral and (b) written representations he has made to his US counterpart on behalf of the European Union regarding
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the use of EU airspace for extraordinary rendition flights of those accused of terrorist activities; and if he will make a statement. [33707]

Ian Pearson: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 5 December 2005 (UIN 33818).


Mr. Binley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is towards resolution RC-B6–0592/2005 of the European Parliament of 17 November on Burma; and if he will make a statement. [33401]

Ian Pearson: We agree with the European Parliament's conclusion in resolution RC-B6–0592/2005 that the UN has a vital role to play in Burma. We strongly support the UN Secretary General's efforts to promote national reconciliation and democratisation in Burma, and agree with his most recent 'good offices' report of 10 October. Human rights violations have been highlighted in successive highly critical UK co-sponsored UN resolutions on Burma, most recently at the UN General Assembly in November. These issues remain a focus for the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma, Professor Sergio Pinheiro, and the UN Secretary General's special envoy to Burma, Tan Sri Razali Ismail, whom we urge the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) to allow to return to Burma.

We fully support US efforts to secure discussion of Burma by the UN Security Council. We believe that such a discussion, including covering the human rights situation, would increase the pressure on the Burmese regime to effect genuine change. It would send a powerful signal to the Burmese leadership that the UN Security Council—the body with primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security—is concerned about the situation in Burma.

We believe that it is essential for the SPDC to enter into a constructive dialogue with all legitimate representative bodies, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy, and the ethnic groups to promote national reconciliation.

We share the European Parliament's concerns about the continuing detention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. We have repeatedly called for her immediate release and that of all political prisoners in Burma, most recently in a statement on behalf of the European Union on 28 November.

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