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23 Mar 2006 : Column 538W—continued

Private Rented Accommodation

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average rental cost of two bed accommodation in Northern Ireland's private sector was in each of the last five years. [59948]

Mr. Hanson: The only information available is the average rental cost of two bedroom accommodation in Northern Ireland for the period 2002–03–2005–06, based on private sector housing benefit payments, as follows:
Average rental cost per two bedroom accommodation (per week)

Financial year£


Downing Street (Events)

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister (1) on how many occasions since 1 May 2005, 10 Downing Street has been made available for Labour Party events; and what income has been derived from such use; [59412]

(2) pursuant to his answer of 17 March 2006 to Question 59525, on Downing Street events, how many political events on behalf of the Labour Party he hosted in 2005; and what income was derived from those events for public funds. [60922]

The Prime Minister: As was the practice under previous administrations and in accordance with the Ministerial Code (4.2), I have hosted a number of political events at Downing Street. The costs of which were met by the Labour Party.


Mr. Davidson: To ask the Prime Minister on what dates meetings have taken place between officials in Number 10 Downing Street and representatives of Asda, including Asda's parent company Wal-Mart, in the last 12 months; and if he will list the participants. [59920]

The Prime Minister: My officials and I have meetings with a wide range of organisations and individuals on a wide range of subjects. Information relating to internal meetings, discussion and advice is not disclosed as to do so could harm the frankness and candour of internal discussion.
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Audio Recorded Conversations

Harry Cohen: To ask the Prime Minister whether he has audio recorded conversations in his role as Prime Minister; and if he will make a statement. [59703]

The Prime Minister: No, except for media interviews.

Freedom of Information Act

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister what changes he has made to administrative procedures within 10 Downing Street following the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. [59401]

The Prime Minister: The Freedom of Information Act is now part of the routine business of government. Officials have been provided with guidance on the Act.

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister what steps he takes to ensure that his answering practices are consistent with the Freedom of Information Act 2000. [59408]

The Prime Minister: Practice and procedures are set out in the February 2005 Cabinet Office guidance to departments entitled Guidance to Officials on Drafting Answers to Parliamentary Questions." Copies of the guidance are available in the Libraries of the House.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Peter Law: To ask the Prime Minister what the basis was for his statement to the Liaison Committee on 8 February that international agreement on greenhouse gas emissions needs to be agreed by 2012 to avoid an ecological tipping point on climate change. [60620]

The Prime Minister: The Kyoto Protocol agreement only covers agreed action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 2012. Further international negotiations will be necessary in order to secure a second commitment period under the Protocol, beginning in 2013.

The overwhelming scientific evidence stresses the need for urgent action to enable emissions to peak and decline within the next decade if we are to get on track to avoid dangerous impacts. Any prospects for such urgent action depend on international agreement for the period beyond 2012.

Ministerial Travel

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister on what date he last travelled by train on official business. [59402]

The Prime Minister: I travel making the most efficient and cost-effective arrangements, and use trains as and when appropriate. My travel arrangements are in accordance with the arrangements for official travel set out in Chapter 10 of the Ministerial Code, and the accompanying guidance document, Travel by Ministers".

Mrs. C. Blair (Security Costs)

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Prime Minister whether his wife will contribute personally to the cost of providing for her security during her forthcoming trips to (a) the USA and (b) the United Arab Emirates. [60827]

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The Prime Minister: It has been the practice of successive governments not to comment on security issues.


Peter Law: To ask the Prime Minister whether he discussed (a) the prospects of Pakistan joining the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and (b) Iran's compliance with the NPT during his meeting with his Pakistani counterpart on 6 March. [60622]

Keith Vaz: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his recent meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan. [61014]

The Prime Minister: I discussed a wide range of issues with the Prime Minister Aziz during his recent visit, including Kashmir and Afghanistan. I also refer the hon. Member and my hon. Friend to the press conference I held with Prime Minister Aziz on 6 March, a transcript of which is available on the No. 10 website.

I had no discussions on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. However, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) also met Prime Minister Aziz during his visit where they discussed a wide range of issues, including Iranian compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its obligations arising from the Treaty.


Additional Learning Support

John Penrose: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much her Department spent on additional learning support in (a) 2004–05 and (b) 2005–06; and how much has been allocated for 2006–07. [60789]

Jacqui Smith: The Department allocates funds for the post-16 education and training sector to the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Additional Learning Support (ALS) allows further education (FE) providers to meet the extra costs to enable learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities or other needs to fully access learning provision to achieve their learning aims. ALS can be claimed by colleges and other FE providers to cover the extra costs of learning required by an individual—for example, additional support, learning aids, materials etc. The LSC allocates ALS funds to colleges and other FE providers as part of their overall FE funding allocation. In 2004/05 the ALS spend was £333.3 million. Spend for 2005/06 is not yet available but the LSC allocated £340.3 million to colleges and other FE providers in 2005/06. The LSC is still in discussion with learning providers for 2006/07 allocations. The provisional allocation for 2006/07 is £366.2 million and this will be confirmed when the LSC agrees final budgets with providers in May.


Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what initiatives her Department is undertaking aimed at preventing bullying in schools; [60738]
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(2) what steps she is taking to ensure that children who cannot attend school as a result of bullying are able to use alternative educational arrangements; [60739]

(3) what measures she uses to assess bullying trends in schools. [60740]

Jacqui Smith: This Government have given an unprecedentedly high profile to tackling and preventing bullying, as well as supporting those who have been bullied. Since 1999 it has been compulsory for every school to have an anti bullying policy in place which details how the school will tackle bullying. Our anti bullying work, including the anti bullying charter for action, takes an integrated approach to preventing bullying, to addressing causes of bullying—for example prejudice—and to helping those who are bullied.

As recommended by the Practitioners Group on Behaviour and Discipline, the recent White Paper committed the Department to producing specific guidance for schools on prejudice driven bullying. At the beginning of this month, we launched our new advice 'Bullying around racism, religion and culture; how to prevent it and what to do when it happens' as the first of this suite of materials. There is a major emphasis within this advice on prevention. The advice is presented as a set of interactive web pages on the teachernet website and is being supported by a national programme of dissemination events. Feedback from schools and local authorities so far has been overwhelmingly positive. We will be following this with specific advice on countering homophobic bullying later in 2006.

We have secured a very broad consensus, with all the teaching professional associations and the Anti Bullying Alliance (ABA) signing up to our anti bullying charter for action. The charter is a voluntary commitment to creating a school community where bullying is not tolerated. In 2006 we plan to share examples of where the charter has been particularly well implemented with other schools so that they can learn from this best practice. The charter contains a significant emphasis on prevention.

Through our work with the ABA, an organisation comprising over 65 leading anti bullying charities and experts, we provide schools and local authorities with expert help to tackle bullying, including prevention. The National Strategies' behaviour materials provide schools with support in preventing and responding to bullying.

We have put more adults than ever in our schools—teachers, classroom assistants, learning mentors, Connexions personal advisers, behaviour and education support teams and police officers—so that a wide range of people are available to help prevent and tackle bullying.

Anti bullying week continues to be a successful event with a large number of schools taking part in November 2005's activities through a wide variety of national and local events. There was a considerable amount of positive press coverage and this year over 325,000 anti bullying wristbands were distributed.
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Our anti bullying resource pack for schools Bullying: Don't Suffer in Silence", updated in 2000 and September 2002 will be revised and re-issued in the summer term 2006 to ensure schools have the most up-to-date information available on preventing and tackling bullying.

In addition the Department has recently launched the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) curriculum resource—an intervention to develop children's social, emotional and behavioural skills from foundation stage to year 6. It is available to all primary schools and the evidence from the pilot suggests that it helps reduce bullying and promotes positive behaviour generally. It is an important arm of the Department's longer term policy to promote positive behaviour and attendance and prevent bullying. The Department is hoping to build on the work carried out in primary schools by providing a similar whole school curriculum based resource for secondary schools (SEBS). At present the programme is in a very early pilot stage.

In England, local authorities have a duty to provide a suitable education at school or otherwise for each child of compulsory school age who, for reasons of illness, exclusion or otherwise, would not receive it unless such arrangements were made. It is, therefore, for local authorities, in consultation with parents, to decide the most appropriate educational provision for a child that cannot attend school as a result of bullying.

The Department has issued guidance for local authorities and schools on PRUs and alternative provision, and on the commissioning of alternative provision; all local authorities and schools should have regard to this guidance.

National statistics on incidents of bullying are not available.

Our departmental guidance suggests that schools and local authorities should use all the data available to them, through behaviour audits, self evaluation and pupil surveys, to assist them in monitoring bullying incidents within their schools and to assess the impact of their own anti bullying initiatives.

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