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6 July 2006 : Column 1376W—continued


Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Organisations

Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much funding was awarded by the Government to lesbian, gay and bisexual organisations in Northern Ireland in 2004-05; and what percentage of funding awarded to all section 75 groups this represented. [59991]

Paul Goggins [pursuant to the reply, 16 May 2006, Official Report, c. 879W]: Unfortunately due to an administrative error the hon. Gentleman was provided with incorrect information. The correct information is as follows:

I apologise for any inconvenience caused.

L'Estrange and Brett

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for what services provided by L'Estrange and Brett Solicitors the Northern Ireland Police Fund wrote a cheque for more than £60,000. [82868]

Paul Goggins: The details of payments made by the Northern Ireland Police Fund is a matter for the Fund.

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland why the Northern Ireland Police Fund wrote a cheque to L'Estrange and Brett Solicitors for more than £60,000; who signed it; who authorised it; and whether it was (a) discussed and (b) approved by the directors of the board. [82960]

Paul Goggins: The details of the payments made by the Northern Ireland Police Fund are matters for the Fund.

Select Committee Recommendations

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action has been taken by his Department to implement Northern Ireland Select Committee recommendations since the 2001-02 Session; and if he will make a statement. [78851]

Mr. Hain: Information relating to the implementation of Northern Ireland Select Committee recommendations for each year since the 2001-02 Session is not held centrally. It cannot therefore be readily retrieved without incurring disproportionate costs. In their responses to Northern Ireland Select Committee reports the Government make it clear whether or not they accept the Committee’s recommendations.

Sex Offenders

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons on the sex offenders register in Northern Ireland have reoffended while still on the register in each of the last five years. [81809]

Mr. Hanson: The Northern Ireland Sex Offender Strategic Management Committee in its annual report “Managing the Risk 05/06” published on 27 June 2006 reported that of the cases managed at category 2 (medium risk) or category 3 (high risk) one offender was charged or reported for a further serious sex
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offence during the previous 12-month period ending 31 March 2006. The information for the previous four years and for category 1 (low risk) offenders is not collated centrally by the PSNI and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. At an operational level the police and other agencies involved in the multi-agency sex offender risk assessment and management (MASRAM) procedures are fully aware of the nature of each individual offender’s offending behaviour including whether this involves further offences of a sexual nature.

Waste Management

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the environmental effects of the incineration of (a) municipal and (b) industrial waste. [82019]

David Cairns: There are no incinerators in Northern Ireland burning municipal waste. Any future municipal waste incinerator would require a permit from the Environment and Heritage Service (EHS) to operate, would be required to meet the standards of the Waste Incineration Directive and would be required to assess the impact of such an operation on the environment. EHS would also carry out its own assessment of the impact before any permit issued and this would include the use of computer software to model the impact of emissions on local air quality.

There are a few incinerators in Northern Ireland handling industrial waste although the incineration facilities for industrial or indeed other waste are not extensive. All such operations are required by the regulators to meet UK and European standards of operations. These standards, in particular the emission limits on discharges to air, are set at a level to ensure that there can be no meaningful impact on local air quality standards or any detriment to health. All incinerators undergo regular monitoring to ensure these standards are consistently met.

The impact of all incinerators is also assessed by the regulators as part of the process of determining applications for the environmental permits that each incinerator must hold in order to operate. For the larger incinerators this includes the use of computer software to model the impact of emissions on local air quality.

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he has plans to introduce compulsory recycling schemes. [82020]

David Cairns: There are no current plans to introduce compulsory recycling schemes in Northern Ireland.

Education and Skills

Academies

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether teachers working in academies will retain their national negotiating rights on pay and conditions. [82460]

Jim Knight: Academies, as independent schools, are not bound by the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions
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of Service Document or by guidance on support staff pay and conditions issued by the National Joint Council, but can negotiate their own pay and conditions arrangements with staff.

Where academies replace existing schools there will in many cases be a transfer of undertakings under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 (TUPE). In such cases, staff of the closing school have the right to transfer to the academy on their existing terms and conditions, as set out in the Teachers’ Pay and Conditions document.

Academies need to respond innovatively to the huge challenges they face. The ability to negotiate their own pay and conditions to meet the particular needs of the academy, its staff and students, is part of the increased flexibility they need to meet these challenges.

Adult Education

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on recent changes in the (a) funding and (b) number of adult education courses, with particular reference to (i) basic skills courses, (ii) other vocational courses and (iii) non-vocational and community education. [79888]

Bill Rammell: Our strategic priorities for adult learning which I announced on 21 October 2005 are to: support adults who lack basic skills or the platform of skills for employability; ensure a wide range of opportunities at level 3; and, ensure the continued availability of a wide range of opportunities for personal and community development (PCDL). I reaffirmed our commitment to safeguard the funding for PCDL in mainstream further education and local authority funded adult education (adult and community learning) with a budget of £210 million in 2006/07.

Overall we have increased further education funding nationally by around £2.5 billion since 1997— equivalent to 48 per cent. in real terms. Our investment in adult learning will remain broadly stable at £2.9 billion but the nature of provision will change. Colleges will provide more publicly funded long courses to meet national skills demands including a new free entitlement to a first full level 3 qualification for young adults for which we are making available new funds of £25 million. Post-16 providers, including colleges, will provide around 3.5 million adult places in 2007/08, a reduction of around 6 per cent. compared to now.

Agency Staff

Ms Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what average hourly rate was paid by his Department to each employment agency for staff employed through agencies in 2005-06. [81498]

Mr. Dhanda: The average hourly rate paid by the Department for staff employed through Adecco in the financial year 2005-06 was as follows:


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Grade Average hourly charge rate (£)

AA

8.59

AO

9.81

EO

12.39

HEO

17.24

Messenger

7.97

Pers sec

13.65

Snr pers sec

14.53


Black/Asian Employees

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) black and Asian and (b) other people are employed in his Department's press office. [74355]

Mr. Dhanda: A total of 26 people are employed in the Department's press office of whom less than five are black and Asian.

Information on ethnicity is collected on a voluntary basis.

Child Care

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what his policy is on the charging of top-up fees by providers of child care in receipt of monies from his Department. [82968]

Beverley Hughes: Every three and four-year-old is entitled to 12 1/2 hours of free high-quality early education and care for 38 weeks of the year. The fees that providers charge parents for additional hours and services beyond the free entitlement are a private matter between providers and parents.

The entitlement must be free at the point of delivery. The funding the Government provide is not a subsidy, and should not be treated as such by providers. Providers must make no charge to parents for the funded hours accessed and must reduce their fees by the amount they would usually charge were the child not accessing a free place. Providers may not require parents to take up additional hours or services as a condition of access to a free place. To allow this practice could result in a two-tier system where real choice exists only for the well-off, and the most disadvantaged—precisely those who stand most to benefit from free provision—are excluded.

Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the projected budget is of CAFCASS for (a) 2007-08 and (b) 2008-09. [83059]

Mr. Dhanda: The decisions about CAFCASS budgets for 2007-08 and 2008-09 have not yet been made. In 2006-07 CAFCASS received additional funding of £4.69 million for one-off expenditure this year and, following royal assent to the Children and Adoption Act 2006, work is taking place to identify the
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resources that will be necessary to commence its provisions. I am monitoring the financial position of CAFCASS and I am in ongoing discussions with the Chair and Chief Executive.

Class Sizes

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the average class size is of (a) primary and (b) secondary school classes in England. [82456]

Jim Knight: The available information is given in the following table.

Maintained primary and secondary schools: average class sizes( 1, 2) as at January 2006( 3) England
Average class size

Key stage 1 classes(4)

25.6

Key stage 2 classes

27.3

Classes in primary schools

26.3

Classes in secondary schools

21.5

(1) Classes as taught during a single selected period in each school on the day of the census in January.
(2) Classes taught by one teacher.
(3) Provisional.
(4) Includes reception classes.
Source:
Schools’ Census

Final 2006 class size data will be published in September.

The information provided in this response was published in April in the Statistical First Release: Pupil Characteristics and Class Sizes in Maintained Schools in England, January 2006 (Provisional):

Credit Unions

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if his Department will provide information and membership forms for credit unions to its employees. [79941]

Mr. Dhanda: The Government welcome the contribution made by the various savings institutions in providing for greater choice and diversity in the financial services sector.

The Government’s guiding principles are to ensure impartiality and to help create a level playing field for all providers of financial services in order that their specific attributes can be properly harnessed.

It would therefore be inconsistent for a Government Department to favour credit unions above other financial institutions.

Employees are of course free to join in credit unions if they meet their relevant membership criteria and Departments may provide appropriate levels of support if employees wish to set up a credit union.

Departmental Contracts

James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the value is of the contracts
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his Department holds with (a) Capita plc and (b) its subsidiaries which still have a potential duration of five years or more. [83039]

Mr. Dhanda: A complete answer to this question could be supplied only at disproportionate cost. I can tell you, however, that the Department holds the following Capita contracts with a potential duration of 5 or more years:

Connexions Card, which was included in the answer to your question on a similar subject on 12 June 2006, will be terminated in August 2006 and will not now have a potential duration of 5 or more years.

Departmental Pensions

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will estimate the pension liability of his Department over the next 30 years. [75238]

Mr. Dhanda: The Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS) is an unfunded multi-employer defined benefit scheme and individual Departments’ pension liabilities are not available. Pension liabilities are estimated for individual pension schemes. HM Treasury deposited a full statement about these liabilities together with a technical note covering all the major schemes in the Library of the House on 2 March 2006, Official Report, columns 388-390, following an oral statement in Parliament by the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

The statement and technical note provide detailed information about the size and nature of the liabilities and how they are calculated. Table 1 of the technical note shows a breakdown of liabilities per pension scheme.


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