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Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many written parliamentary questions to his Department in the 2005-06 Session were not answered wholly or in part on grounds of disproportionate cost. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the cash equivalent transfer value is of the public sector pensions of the 10 highest paid members of staff in his Department; and if he will make a statement. 
Information is only available for the post of Director of the Wales Office. Details of the cash equivalent transfer value of the Directors who held that post was published in the Remuneration Report of the Department for Constitutional Affairs Resource Accounts for 2005-06, pages 20 and 21. The accounts
were printed on 12 October 2006, and are available in the House Library, or on the DCAs website.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) how many written parliamentary questions to his Department in the 2005-06 session were not answered wholly or in part on grounds of disproportionate cost; 
(2) how many written parliamentary questions to his Department in the 2005-06 session were answered with a reply that it had not been possible to reply before prorogation, or similar wording. 
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what the 20 largest procurement projects initiated by his Department since May 1997 were; what the (a) original budget, (b) cost to date and (c) consultancy fees were; and what the final cost was of each project which has been completed. 
David Cairns: Other than minor purchases, the Scotland Office does not undertake discrete procurement projects and utilises existing service contracts between suppliers and the Scottish Executive or the Department for Constitutional Affairs for its day-to-day activities.
Beverley Hughes: The first Sure Start childrens centres were set up in 2003. Between 2003 and 2006 we have delivered centres to reach 650,000 children under five and their families. We are now in the second phase which will see 2,500 centres in total up and running by 2008. The revenue allocation for the current phase (2006-08) is £1.4 billion for childrens centres and Sure Start Local Programmes and includes start-up funding for new centres opening between 2006 and 2008 as well as ongoing funding to support centres that opened before April 2006. By 2010 we aim to have 3,500 centres openone for every communityand we intend that childrens centres will be a key part of our permanent, mainstream childrens services. Decisions about funding for childrens centres after 2008 will be taken when we have concluded our comprehensive spending review.
Jim Knight: The Secretary of State has regular meetings with HM Chief Inspector on a range of matters. The Chief Inspector has a duty to advise the Secretary of State about quality of education and standards in schools, including in relation to citizenship. On 28 September Ofsted published Towards Consensus? Citizenship in Secondary Schools reporting on progress schools have made on establishing programmes of citizenship. In addition, citizenship is one of many areas reported on by the Chief Inspector in her annual report to the Secretary of State, the latest of which was published on 22 November 2006. Officials meet regularly with Ofsted to discuss citizenship.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the evidential basis was for determining that the funding allocation for the free early years entitlement is sufficient to cover the cost nationally of 12.5 hours child care provision for every three and four-year-old for 38 weeks a year. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 11 January 2007]: We currently invest £3 billion per year in the delivery of the free entitlement for three and four-year-olds. This funding is intended to provide, for each eligible child, access to high quality early learning and care, delivered in accordance with the Foundation Stage Curriculum and National Daycare Standards.
In the context of the comprehensive spending review and in order to assess the impact of extending the free entitlement to 15 hours and increasing its flexibility by 2010, work has been done to identify the current cost of providing the free entitlement in different kinds of settings. This has involved modelling on the basis of the national survey data and also discussions and joint work with a range of local authorities and stakeholders. On the basis of this, we judge that there is sufficient national funding in the system to deliver the free entitlement.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what estimate he has made of the expected cost to the Exchequer of extending the entitlement to free nursery care for all three and four-year-olds from 12.5 hours per week to (a) 15 and (b) 20 hours per week for 38 weeks; 
(2) what estimate he has made of the expected cost to the Exchequer of extending the entitlement to free nursery care for all three and four-year-olds from 38 to 43 weeks a year for (a) 15 and (b) 20 hours per week. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answers 11 January 2007]: The 10-Year Childcare Strategy set out our commitment to extending the free entitlement to early education and care for all three and four-year-olds to 15 hours by 2010. We are also committed to increasing the flexibility of the free entitlement so that it is more responsive to the needs of children and families.
In the context of the comprehensive spending review (CSR) work is ongoing to estimate the cost of the extensions to 15 and 20 hours, based on population and take-up data and current levels of funding. We are seeking to roll-out the extension to 15 hours gradually, starting with 20 pathfinder local authorities who will begin providing the 15 hours and greater flexibility from April this year. These pathfinders will provide crucial information on the practical local implications of the changes which will underpin national estimates of the cost of extending the entitlement and increasing its flexibility. Figures cannot be confirmed in advance of the Departments comprehensive spending review settlement and until we have these findings.
We have no plans to extend the free entitlement to 43 rather than 38 weeks, though some local authorities offer the current free entitlement over more than 38 weeks by providing access to fewer hours per week where this is what parents want for their children.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to improve the (a) accessibility and (b) affordability of English for Speakers of Other Languages courses; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: I announced in October 2006 the withdrawal of automatic fee remission from courses in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) from August 2007. This move follows significant growth in spend on ESOL, which tripled between 2001 and 2005. At the same time, however, learners from priority groups who need to improve their English skills for employability and integration are finding it increasingly difficult to access the help they need quickly. The change to fee remission policy will help us to focus limited resources on those learners who most need our support.
Those learners in receipt of benefits or on working tax credit will be eligible for full fee remission. However, the Government will continue to support the cost of learning for those who are asked for a contribution and will fund around 77 per cent. of the overall cost of learning. It is reasonable that where employers are benefiting from the opportunity to recruit in large numbers from outside the UK we should ask them to fund the full cost of English language learning and where employers seek training provision through programmes such as Train to Gain, ESOL costs will be considered as part of the overall package.
Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answer of 19 December 2006, Official Report, column 1863W, on foundation degrees, if he will list the interested parties in the further and higher education sectors with whom his Department held informal discussions. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 11 January 2007]: The Department is in constant dialogue with representatives from a wide range of organisations in both the further and higher education sectors and beyond. These discussions are often essential for exploring the desirability or feasibility of policy decisions before any explicit proposals are formulated. The proposals in clause 19 (Power to award Foundation Degrees only) of the Further Education and Training Bill emerged from such ongoing discussions.
Jim Knight: York local authority was formed on 1 April 1996 as a result of local government reorganisation, so data before then is not available. The following table gives the percentage of 15 year old pupils(1) obtaining five or more GCSEs and equivalents(2) in York local authority in each year since 1997.
|(1) Pupils aged 15 at the start of the academic year i.e. 31 August.|
(2 )Data from 1997 to 2003 include GCSEs and GNVQs. Data since 2004 include GCSEs and a range of other equivalences.
(3) Data for 2006 is provisional. Data for all other years is final.
Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many and what proportion of non-prescribed courses in higher education were funded by local skills councils in each of the last five years. 
Bill Rammell: Learning and skills councils are generally responsible for funding non-prescribed HE courses in FE colleges. The number of LSC funded learners in further education and work-based learning undertaking level 4 and above courses was as follows:
AY 2001/0258,000 learners (representing 1.3 per cent. of LSC funded learners)
AY 2002/0372,000 learners (representing 1.5 per cent. of LSC funded learners)
AY 2003/0477,000 learners (representing 1.6 per cent. of LSC funded learners)
AY 2004/0574,000 learners (representing 1.6 per cent. of LSC funded learners)
AY 2005/0670,000 learners (representing 1.7 per cent. of LSC funded learners)
Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will assess the merits of transferring the responsibility of funding non-prescribed courses of higher education in further education colleges from the Learning and Skills Council to the Higher Education Funding Council for England. 
[holding answer 10 January 2007]: It is vital that we secure effective progression pathways for people looking to continue learning beyond level 3 either through further or higher education. Within their funding responsibilities, both the Learning and Skills Council and the Higher Education Funding Council for England have made important contributions to developing non-traditional pathways, particularly for people seeking to progress through the vocational route. Within our wider discussions with the funding councils about the future development of higher level skills and learning, we are considering whether there is a more effective way of organising responsibilities for funding the provision of non-prescribed higher education. Our further consideration of the issues will be set in the context of the changes needed to deliver the ambitions for higher level skills set out in the report from Lord Leitch on the UKs future skills needs. We have asked the two funding
councils to work together to assess the issues relating to the current funding of higher level skills provision and to make appropriate recommendations. There are a number of complex issues to be considered and we do not expect to reach conclusions before the summer.
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent assessment he has made of the costs of (a) part-time and (b) full-time students to an higher education institution. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 11 January 2007]: This is a matter for the Higher Education Funding Council for England. However, to improve the accuracy of any relative assessment of this sort, it will be helpful to have comprehensive data on the full economic costs of teaching students in different circumstances, taking account of the relative costs of different subjects as well as mode of study. Such data will start to become available during 2007.
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