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19 Jun 2006 : Column 1634W—continued

This information is taken from ‘National Statistics First Release: Permanent and Fixed Period Exclusions from Schools and Exclusion Appeals in England, 2003/04, SFR 23/2005’, which is available in the Library.

Information on fixed period and permanent exclusions and exclusion appeals during the 2004/05 school year will be published by the Department on 29 June 2006.

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Safety Equipment (Schools)

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps are being taken to ensure the installation of appropriate safety equipment within schools, with particular reference to steps taken at the construction stage. [77860]

Jim Knight: Overall responsibility for installing safety equipment lies with the Employer, under the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act, 1974. In the case of community schools, community special schools, maintained nursery schools, pupil referral units and voluntary controlled schools the employer is the local authority. For foundation schools, foundation special schools, voluntary-aided schools and some independent schools, the employer is usually the governing body of the school.

The employer has the duty to prepare the overall health and safety plan, ensure its implementation and monitor it. Local authorities have the powers to delegate more detailed planning to schools if they wish, but continue to have ultimate responsibility. The plan is enforceable by the Health and Safety Executive who can take action against the employer.

At construction stage responsibility for planning and specifying appropriate safety equipment, which meets required standards, lies with the employer and their agents (architects or equivalent professional consultants). The responsibility for ensuring equipment is installed accordingly and is working correctly on completion lies with the contractor.

Science Teaching

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he is taking to broaden the curriculum for the teaching of science. [77713]

Jim Knight [holding answer 15 June 2006]: From September 2006, we are introducing a revised key stage 4 programme of study which focuses on scientific literacy. It will maintain the breadth, depth and challenge of the current curriculum while giving teachers greater flexibility to provide for the wide range of students’ interests and aptitudes.

We are making similar changes to the key stage 3 science curriculum which will commence in September 2008.

Sex Education

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps are being taken (a) to improve sex education and (b) to increase awareness of sexual health issues in schools. [77620]

Mr. Dhanda: We are committed to helping schools improve their delivery of this important area of the curriculum. In addition to the Department’s ‘Sex and Relationship Education Guidance’ (2000) which includes guidelines on the coverage of sexual health issues, all teachers of SRE are encouraged to undertake the Government funded certificate in personal social
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and health education (PSHE). The certificate supports standards in the delivery of PSHE teaching including sex and relationship education and is also open to community nurses. To date, over 2,000 teachers and nurses have been certificated under the programme.

The Department has also recently announced the launch of a subject association for PSHE. The association will provide a central support network for teachers giving them a focal point to receive advice, gather and share examples of good practice and promote existing guidance, on all areas of PSHE, including SRE and sexual health.

In 2006-07, the National Healthy Schools programme, a key programme for driving up standards in PSHE, will also benefit from increased funding (£12.4 million). Healthy Schools must demonstrate that they have a sex and relationship education programme in line with DfES guidance.

Teachers have also been given a package of support from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. This has included guidance on assessment to help schools evaluate what young people are learning through PSHE as well as units of work on SRE.

Tuition Fees (Peterborough)

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much was paid in tuition fees by students in (a) Peterborough constituency and (b) Peterborough city council area in each year since fees were instituted. [77913]

Bill Rammell: Students on full-time undergraduate courses and their families are expected to make a contribution towards the cost of their tuition based on household income. Students from lower income backgrounds are wholly or partially exempt from paying tuition fees.

The amount of private contributions to tuition fees by students from Peterborough local authority in academic years 1999/2000 to 2003/04 are given in the table.

Contribution from students paying all or part of their tuition fees
Academic year £ million











Source: Student Loans Company (SLC)

Data in the answer cover the period from 1999/2000 to 2003/04. Data for 2004/05 onwards are not available as student applications from Peterborough were processed by another local authority (Cambridgeshire), and can not be disaggregated.

Contributions towards tuition fees of up to £1,000 were introduced in academic year 1998/99 but, as that year was treated as a transitional year, data are not available on the same basis as subsequent years.

Academic years 1999/2000 and 2000/01 contain two and three cohorts respectively of students subject to the new student support scheme.

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Northern Ireland


Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the total cost of providing a digital hearing aid on the NHS is in the Province including (a) assessment, (b) fitting, (c) follow-up and (d) purchase of the aid (i) to the NHS and (ii) to the patient. [77239]

Paul Goggins: The answers to (a), (b) and (c) cannot be provided because the information is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The cost of purchasing a digital hearing aid (DHA) varies depending on the specification. The majority of DHAs provided cost between £56 and £270. There is no cost to the patient.

Bullying in Schools

Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many incidents of bullying of children have been reported in the last financial year (a) at primary schools and (b) in post primary education, broken down by (i) board area, (ii) category of bullying and (iii) type of location of incident. [77356]

Maria Eagle: The Department of Education does not collect the information requested.

Information about the scale and nature of bullying in Northern Ireland schools is contained in a research report published in October 2002. A research briefing summary is available on the Department's website at:

The Department has recently commissioned updated research into bullying, in all its forms, and the results are expected to be ready for publication by mid 2007.


David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he has taken to help businesses become more innovative since 31 May 2005; and how many businesses in Northern Ireland have been assisted in this way over the period. [77097]

Maria Eagle: The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment continues to work with all Departments and Invest NI to ensure the delivery of ‘think/create/innovate—the Regional Innovation Strategy for Northern Ireland', which seeks to develop the region's innovation economy. A formal review of ‘think/create/innovate' is currently under way, the outcomes of which will contribute to the identification of the key priorities for Northern Ireland's R&D and innovation system during the period 2006-10.

In the period 1 June 2005 to 31 May 2006, Invest NI supported 180 research and development projects which offered grant of £11.86 million against total project costs of £31.35 million. Invest NI also delivered £12.3 million assistance against total project costs of
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£60.8 million to support a further 308 projects across a range of process, strategy and innovation programmes. 131 businesses were also offered grant of £1.5 million to improve their use of information communication technology and implement new e-business processes and 126 businesses received assistance to enter/develop new markets under the Explorers/Connections programmes.

Recognising the importance of best practice, Invest NI also supported 71 Business Improvement Training agreements, visited 419 companies to provide tailored ICT advice, provided 104 companies with ICT demonstrations, responded to 480 requests for technical advice, conducted 430 intellectual property searches, and delivered 514 portions of HR advice and guidance.

Invest NI also delivered £2.5 million to business in respect of 10 existing letters of offer under the Centres of Excellence programme.

In March 2006, Invest Northern Ireland hosted its first ever Innovation Week with the theme of ‘Think Different Grow Fast.' 16 events were delivered across Northern Ireland which attracted more than 1,000 business representatives.

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many meetings Ministers have attended with (a) senior departmental officials and (b) business leaders in Northern Ireland to discuss how best to help Northern Ireland businesses become more innovative since 31 May 2005. [77098]

Maria Eagle: In keeping with the ethos of the Economic Vision and the Regional Innovation Strategy for Northern Ireland, the importance of innovation as a driver to the Northern Ireland economy is a key component of the activities undertaken by the NI ministerial team and their respective Departments.

For instance, during the period in question, Ministers took part in 12 company visits at which they promoted the continued need for innovation as key to company competitiveness. Innovation has also been a key feature of a recent trade mission to India.

Innovation has also been a topic for discussion raised by Ministers at various networking events hosted by Northern Ireland's business representative organisations, in addition to being the subject of a number of key note addresses, including the recent International Creative Clusters conference which took place in Belfast in October 2005.

At a strategic level, Ministers and senior departmental officials for the Departments of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Employment and Learning and Regional Development regularly participate in Economic Development Forum (EDF) meetings at the Northern Ireland Office at which they discuss many of the issues of importance to Northern Ireland's social and economic development, including a quarterly report by the EDF Innovation Sub-Group.

More generally, Ministers meet on a regular (usually weekly) basis with senior officials from their departments to discuss key policy and operational issues. The Regional Innovation Strategy for Northern Ireland has the ownership of all Departments and is a key influence underpinning departmental activities.

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Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 8 June 2006, Official Report, column 798W, on the Valuation and Lands Agency, how many census output areas there are in Northern Ireland. [78321]

Mr. Hanson: The 2001 census results in Northern Ireland were reported for 5,022 census output areas.


Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what criteria and procedures he uses when selecting consultants for publicly-funded work. [77377]

Mr. Hanson: The procedure for the appointment of consultants for work within Northern Ireland Departments is based on a competitive process and is governed by the rules set out in the Government Accounting Northern Ireland manual (GANI) and the Public Contracts Regulations 2006.

Where expected spend is not above European Union procurement thresholds, Departments will comply with the principles set out in GANI.

Where spend is expected to be above European Union procurement thresholds in addition to complying with GANI, Departments will comply with the procedures set out in the Public Contracts Regulations 2006.

The criteria used for awarding a public contract will be based on the offer which

Cross-border Action

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action each relevant Department of the Northern Ireland Administration has taken since his announcement with the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs in December 2005 of cross-border action for the north-west region. [75421]

Mr. Hanson: Following our statement in December 2005, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and I announced the establishment of a North West Gateway Initiative on 2 May. This comprises a framework of elements aimed at addressing various problems and offering solutions on a co-ordinated basis across the region. Work at departmental level, North and South, includes the commencement of a non-statutory development framework for the north-west on which consultation with key stakeholders is planned at an early stage; and a seminar involving further and higher education and business interests is being held later this month to consider how best to utilise education and training resources to enhance the skills profile of the region.

The National Roads Authority in the South and Roads Service in Northern Ireland are in discussion
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aimed at identifying potential improvements to the roads’ network for the north-west and both Finance Departments have invited the Special EU Programmes Body to assist in the development of strategic proposals which could be considered under the new round of EU Structural Funds.

On economic development, skills and employment, the respective agencies are working together on action plans in their respective areas, e.g. trade and investment promotion (IDA/EI/INI/ITI), tourism (Tourism Ireland/NITB/Failte Ireland), skills/training (FAS/DEL), education, innovation and business development. This work will draw on the joint economic study exploring further opportunities for North-South economic co-operation. It will also build on a range of existing initiatives such as Innovation North West Ireland, Destination North West, the North West Business and Technology zone, North West Region Data Capture project and others. On telecommunications, the issue of open access is being further investigated in the context of the wider needs of the region and, in particular, the completion of telecoms requirements for the cross-border technology park.

A round of consultations between the joint group of officials established earlier this year to assist in maximising the potential of the north-west region and key stakeholders took place on 12 June. It is envisaged that the group will hold further consultations as work progresses.

Departmental Expenditure

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the 10 non-public sector entities that have received the largest total sum of payments from his Department in each of the past five years. [71773]

Mr. Hain: The following information represents the 10 non-public sector entities that have received the largest total sum of payments from the Northern Ireland Office in each of the past five years.

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