Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people in the Mid-Essex Hospital Trust area have been waiting more than 18 weeks for non-emergency treatment that is covered by the 18-week maximum wait target for treatment. 
Voluntary collection and reporting of referral to treatment (RTT) data to support the 18-week target has been under way since autumn 2006. Mandatory national RTT waiting time collection for admitted patients begins this month, and for non-admitted patients in April. Publication will begin as soon as the data are of sufficient quality. For admitted data this is likely to be in the spring and for non-admitted data in the summer.
The national health service undertook a baseline data research exercise in summer 2006 involving an estimation methodology that looked at hospital attendance and admission records from earlier in the year. The results, which do not have the status of official or national statistics but are available on the 18-week website at www.18weeks.nhs.uk, suggest that, nationally, in early 2006, the pathways of 35 per cent. of admitted and 70-80 per cent. of non-admitted patients met 18 weeks.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions she has had with the board of the Mid-Essex Hospital Trust on its proposed policy of delaying treatment for more than 18 weeks for patients in orthopaedics and general surgery; and if she will make a statement. 
Andy Burnham: None. In every part of the country, patients can expect a first outpatient appointment within 13 weeks of general practitioner (GP) referral, and admission to hospital within six months of a decision to admit them. This continues to be the case no matter what measures may have been implemented locally to achieve financial balance. By December 2008, patients will be able to expect to wait no longer than 18 weeks in total from GP referral right through to treatment taking in first out-patients, diagnostic tests and follow-ups and admission for a hospital operation if that is what they require.
The licensing authority assures parents, schools and others that providers of high-hazard
adventure activities meet an adequate standard of safety for young people not in the charge of their parents. It does this by granting, refusing, revoking or varying a licence to provide those activities, after considering licence applications and obtaining reports from its inspectors; it also investigates complaints and publishes information about licence-holders. In this way the Government help young people to receive instruction or leadership in stimulating activities outdoors (climbing, caving, remote trekking and waterborne activities) without avoidable risks of death or disabling injury.
Mr. Scott: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many female pupils gained A level passes at A to C level in (a) mathematics, (b) chemistry, (c) physics and (d) biology in each of the last three years for which figures are available; and what percentage of the total number of pupils gaining passes at that level in each year each figure represents. 
|GCE A level passes at grades A to C by female candidates aged 16-18( 1) in selected subjects, all schools and colleges, 2004 to 2006
|Number of females achieving a pass at grade A to C
|Females as a percentage of all candidates achieving a pass at Grade A to C in subject
|(1) Age at start of academic year (i.e. 31 August)
(2) Mathematics includes passes in GCE Further Mathematics
Jim Knight: The Department is currently consulting the Office of the Information Commissioner and the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) about what additional guidance it will be helpful to publish on the use of biometric technologies in schools.
Biometric information about pupils should be handled in the same way as other personal data about pupils and is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under that Act schools are not necessarily obliged to seek the consent of parents about the use of biometric data, though it is for the school to ensure it is acting in compliance with the Act. However, under the terms of the Act schools should provide notification of their use of data to individuals involved.
Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what (a) meetings and (b) correspondence he has had with (i) the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, (ii) the Office of the Information Commissioner, (iii) other Government Departments and (iv) other groups or individuals on the updating of guidance to schools on the use of biometric technologies in the last six months; and what meetings he plans to have with those groups on subject in the next three months. 
Jim Knight [holding answer 22 January 2007]: The officials held preliminary meetings with the Office of the Information Commissioner on 6 November 2006 and with the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) on 16 November 2006. Discussions are continuing to clarify what additional guidance it will be necessary to issue to schools on the use of biometric technologies. Further meetings will be held as appropriate to achieve this.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what progress has been made in implementing the Building Schools for the Future programme; what the role is of PricewaterhouseCoopers in delivering the programme; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Knight: To date, six local authorities have signed contracts for their Building Schools for the Future (BSF) projects. The first of these was Bristol in June 2006, which marked the establishment of the first Local Education Partnership (LEP), a long-term public-private partnership which is the preferred model for delivering local BSF projects. Greenwich and Manchester signed contracts with their respective private sector partners in October and November 2006, followed by Lancashire, Bradford and Lambeth in December 2006. We expect several more contracts to be signed in the coming months. 18 local authority projects are currently in procurement; seven are now at preferred bidder stage. All but five of the wave 1-3 projects have had their strategies approved. We are just starting work with the 15 authorities in wave 4, which were announced in December 2006.
PricewaterhouseCoopers has no role in delivering the BSF programme. Following Official Journal of the European Union procurement, the Department has placed a contract with PricewaterhouseCoopers to evaluate the impact of the Building Schools for the Future programme on educational achievement. This is in line with Treasury Green Book requirements for major new programmes. This evaluation also aims to learn lessons from the early stages of the programme to inform its development.
Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the average (a) primary and (b) secondary school allocation of dedicated schools grant per pupil is in each local education authority for 2007-08, set out in descending order of grant. 
Jim Knight: DSG allocations for 2007-08 are based on pupil numbers from the January pupil counts and a single guaranteed unit of funding per full-time equivalent pupil aged three to 15 (as announced December 2005). These can be found at http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/docbank/index.cfm?id=9405 and a copy has been placed in the House Library.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many teachers took early retirement in (a) Suffolk, (b) Norfolk, (c) Essex, (d) Cambridgeshire, (e) Bedfordshire, (f) Hertfordshire and (g) England in each year since 1997, broken down by type of institution. 
The information requested is not available at local authority level. The following tables provides the number of teachers who took early
retirement, (defined as before the normal pension age of 60 on premature, actuarially reduced benefits (ARB) or ill health grounds) in each year from 1997-98 to 2005-06 broken down by type of institution in England and Wales.
|Early retirements by type of institution( 1) , 1997-98 to 2005-06
|England and Wales
|Maintained schools sector
|Total maintained sector
|England and Wales
|Other sectors( 2)
|Further( 3) and higher education
|Total all sectors
|(1) The last known institution where the teacher was in teaching service which may have been some years before the date of retirement.
(2) Including only those retirements from independent and further and higher education establishments covered under the Teachers Pension Scheme.
(3) Includes sixth form colleges.
(4) The effect of the change in the Teachers Pension Scheme, from 31 August 1997, was that many more teachers took early retirement in 1997 than in other years. Actuarially Reduced Benefits are included from 2000-01.
(5) Data are provisional.
Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
DfES, Pensioner statistical system