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Swindon Borough Council

Mr. Wills: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the total cost of officials from his Department engaged full-time in supporting Swindon borough council has been since 2003. [46887]

Mr. Woolas: No official from the ODPM has been engaged full-time in supporting Swindon borough council.

A lead official was appointed in 2002 to monitor Swindon borough council's

improvement. That official is paid at rates within the salary range for a senior civil servant at pay band 1, ie minimum rate £54,788 to maximum rate £76,156.
 
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During the period concerned, between two and four days each week have on average been spent on work related to Swindon.

In addition £2 million has been provided, by ODPM and Department of Health, to support Swindon's improvement.

Telecommunication Transmitters

Peter Bottomley: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he proposes to alter the scope and powers of local planning authorities in relation to telecommunication transmitters. [50419]

Yvette Cooper: On 4 April 2005 I announced that the Government would be commissioning research into the future direction of electronic communications technology, and the need for mast developments. This research will inform the ongoing review of the planning arrangements for such developments.

Thames Gateway

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the public sector bodies involved in the Thames Gateway development. [49715]

Yvette Cooper: The key partners are identified in Creating Sustainable Communities: Delivering the Thames Gateway" (page 52), which sets out the Government's vision for and commitment to the Gateway. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Communities and Local Government announced last November that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will additionally be publishing a strategic framework to help shape and guide investments, decisions and actions by Government and our delivery partners across the Thames Gateway.

Traveller Sites

Colin Burgon: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the traveller sites provided by each of the five local authorities in West Yorkshire; and how many pitches (a) there are and (b) are currently occupied on each site. [52025]

Yvette Cooper: As at the date of the last bi-annual Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Count, undertaken on 19 July 2005, the Gypsy and Traveller sites provided by local authorities in West Yorkshire were:

No sites are provided by Calderdale metropolitan borough council or Kirklees metropolitan council.

Valuation Office Agency

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate (a) his Department and (b) the Valuation Office Agency made of the average size of (i) business
 
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premises which paid business rates and (ii) a Band D property in the last year for which estimates are available. [51061]

Mr. Woolas: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister produces estimates of commercial and industrial floorspace from data received from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). Using these data, the average size of business premises in England and Wales at 1 April 2004 (the latest available data) was 433 m 2 . The figure for England was 434 m 2 and for Wales it was 429 m 2 .

These figures are based on bulk class premises, namely retail premises, offices, factories and warehouses. These types of commercial and industrial property have floorspace information available from the VOA.

The Valuation Office Agency has not separately produced any average size estimates for business premises.

Neither ODPM nor the Valuation Office Agency has produced any average size estimates for Band D properties.

Workplace Bullying/Racism

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what advice his Department has given to local authorities on reducing (a) bullying and (b) racism in the workplace. [49817]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister does not give advice to local authorities on tackling bullying and racism. This line of advice would be given to local authorities by local government organisations such as the Local Government Association, the Employers' Organisation and the Improvement and Development Agency, or by national organisations such as the Commission for Racial Equality.

EDUCATION AND SKILLS

Adoption

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) same sex couples and (b) civil partners applied to adopt children between 30 December 2005 and the most recent date for which figures are available. [48756]

Ms Harman: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested is as follows:

Bullying

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what role school welfare officers play in preventing bullying and truancy in and from schools in Lancashire; and if she will make a statement. [51404]


 
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Jacqui Smith: Education welfare officers help to identify the causes of poor attendance, such as bullying where that is a factor, and work with both schools and families to resolve attendance issues, arranging home visits where necessary.

In addition education welfare officers in Lancashire participate in regular truancy sweeps organised by the local authority and police.

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research her Department has (a) evaluated and (b) commissioned in the last three years on bullying in schools. [51724]

Jacqui Smith: The Department has not, in the last three years, evaluated any research on bullying in schools.

The Department commissioned an external evaluation of our guidance to schools on tackling bullying, Don't Suffer in Silence", by researchers at Goldsmith's College, University of London. The results, though based on a fairly low response rate from schools, show that the schools found that the pack met their expectations and helped in drawing up their anti-bullying policies.

This evaluation included research into the perceived success of the anti bullying strategies and interventions recommended in the guidance. Schools generally reported a high level of satisfaction with the interventions they had used.

The Department commissioned the Thomas Coram Research Unit at the Institute of Education, University of London, to review the research evidence relating to homophobia in schools and to talk to groups with an interest in this area. The Department published their work in its Research Report series in late 2004, number 594, entitled Homophobia, Sexual Orientation and Schools: A Review and Implications for Action".

Chesterton Community High School

Paul Farrelly: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which of the features of trust school status she considers would contribute to the raising of standards at Chesterton community high school in Newcastle-under-Lyme. [51551]

Jacqui Smith: The opportunity to form partnerships with external organisations will strengthen trust schools' governing bodies, and help to invigorate school leadership by providing an external source of direction, continuity and focus for the school. Trust governors will help their schools to develop a distinctive ethos and approach to the curriculum and the organisation of the school, with a central focus on raising standards and creating new opportunities for children.

A trust could therefore contribute to the raising of standards at a school like Chesterton community high school by involving external partners in the leadership of the school in a sustainable way. However, it would be for the governing body of Chesterton community high school to determine whether to make a link to a trust. A trust could also encourage collaboration if it supported a number of schools in the area.
 
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