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24 Apr 2006 : Column 941W—continued

Asbestos Insulating Board

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will issue interim guidance to schools warning of the potential dangers of inserting drawing pins and staples into asbestos insulating board in walls and ceilings, and advising that the practice should cease immediately, pending the final recommendations of the Working Group on Action to Control Chemicals; and if she will make a statement. [64228]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 19 April 2006]: Following the advice of the Working Group on Action to Control Chemicals we will shortly be updating our asbestos webpage at and issuing a communication to schools. The communication will include unqualified interim guidance to schools not to pin or staple materials to asbestos insulating board in walls or ceilings. The Group identified that this practice produces a risk to teachers and pupils and is an avoidable activity. HSE have advised that under the precautionary principle this activity must stop and that local authorities and governing bodies will need to notify staff not to damage walls and ceilings in this way if asbestos is present.

Brokerage Services

John Penrose: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate she has made of the cost of brokerage services to be provided from August to link employers needing training to their most appropriate provider. [63272]

Phil Hope: General brokerage support that will support businesses through their Information, Diagnostic and Brokerage (IDB) role is funded by the DTI via the Regional Development Agency. Skills Brokers will receive funding from the Learning and Skills Council. The cost of brokerage is within the overall funding set aside for the National Employer Training Programme and the amounts will vary regionally dependent upon the regional priorities and the current capacity of the network. Detailed information on the estimated cost of brokerage services
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is not held centrally by the Department. Mark Haysom, LSC chief executive, has written to the hon. Member and a copy of his letter has been placed in the House Library.

Letter from Mark Haysom, dated 19 April 2006:

Child Protection

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether there are serving headteachers on List 99. [47281]

Ruth Kelly: My Department does not hold the information requested.

List 99 is a confidential document which contains the personal details of people whose employment by a local education authority, school or in other relevant employment has been barred or restricted by the Secretary of State under section 142 of the 2002 Education Act.

Employers have to check the list to make sure they do not appoint someone to a post from which they have been barred. Since 2000 only total bars have been made and no partial restrictions. A person whose employment has been restricted by the Secretary of State may only work in a post which does not contravene the terms of their restriction. I should also point out that further checks, in addition to List 99, should be undertaken before a teacher is appointed. The fact that an individual is not barred cannot in isolation imply their suitability for a post.
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As I set out in my statement of 19 January, Sir Roger Singleton's expert panel will review all cases involving a sexual offence or allegation which resulted in a decision not to include in List 99, or which resulted in a restriction or partial bar.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many people have been (a) referred to and (b) included on the (i) Protection of Children Act 1999 list and (ii) the Protection of Vulnerable Adults list since 8 January; and how many of these referrals have been cases of individuals previously referred to each list but not previously included on them. [53091]

Ruth Kelly: Decisions to employ individuals in regulated child care settings are a matter for individual employers. There are strong safeguards in place. For example, enhanced CRB checks are mandatory and provide important protection revealing whether any individual has any past police cautions or convictions as well as other local police information.

Since 8 January, 44 people have been referred to the Protection of Children Act list. Of these 44 none has so far been included as the cases are on-going. One has been referred to Protection of Children Act list previously but not included. No one provisionally listed on the Protection of Children Act list is able to work with children while their cases are being examined.

Since 8 January 13 people have been included on Protection of Children Act list all of which are from referrals made before that date.

Matters to do with the Protection of Vulnerable Adults are for my colleague, the Secretary of State for Health.

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill will introduce a new vetting and barring scheme which will strengthen the system still further.

China (Inter-country Adoption)

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what progress has been made in resolving the dispute with the Chinese Government overthe terms of the standard letter of no objection for inter-country adoption; and if she will make a statement. [64834]

Maria Eagle: We understand that there are several British expatriates living in China and wanting to adopt through the Chinese domestic system. The Chinese Government has asked for a certificate confirming that these persons are suitable to adopt. In the absence of an assessment completed by an adoption agency in accordance with UK law, it is not possible for the Government to confirm to the Chinese authorities the suitability of such a person to be an adoptive parent. If a certificate were issued without a thorough assessment, this might result in the placement of a child with a person who has not been assessed and approved to adopt—and who could be manifestly unsuitable. Without a certificate, however, the Chinese Government will not allow British expatriates to adopt.

We have agreed to work with the Chinese Government to find a mutually agreeable form of words that do not amount to an assurance of a person's suitability to
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adopt but would satisfy Chinese law. Although this is taking longer than originally hoped, significant progress has been made and we remain hopeful of bringing this matter to a successful conclusion.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many and what proportion of (a) staff and (b) new staff employed in (i)her Department and (ii) each of the agencies for which she has responsibility were registered as disabled in each of the last three years for which data are available. [61371]

Maria Eagle: The Cabinet Office collects and publishes annually statistical information on the civil service by Department. These include data on the number of staff in Departments who have declared a disability.

Declaration of a disability is voluntary.

The latest available information at April 2004 is available in the Library and on the civil service website and the following addresses:

for data relating to 1 April 2004, and

for previous reporting periods.

The number and proportion of new staff employed in my Department who declared a disability in each of the last three years are as follows:

(32)In accord with civil service guidelines for disclosing equality data, numbers below 6 are not shown.

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