I am writing to you in response to the three Parliamentary Questions that you tabled recently:
126086To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, how long it took on average to produce a section 7 case in respect of Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service proceedings in (a) 2006-07 and (b) each of the preceding five years.
CAFCASS does not collect information on the duration of cases and has not done so since it was established in 2001. For the last 3 years, CAFCASS has operated to a guideline that a section 7 report will take on average 25 hours to produce. We operate to a standard of 12 weeks in which to file all private law reports. However, local filing agreements are made between CAFCASS teams and their Courts, and these agreements fluctuate from month to month and case to case. The way the 25 hours work will be distributed across the filing period will also vary from case to case. Urgent cases are always dealt with first.
CAFCASS currently has 72 teams and at 31 January 2007, 30.6% of teams filed their report within 12 weeks. 25% of teams filed within 14 weeks. 43.1% of teams filed within 16 weeks, and 1.3% (1 team) had a filing time of over 16 weeks. This figure varies with demand, for public law cases and other types of reports ordered to be produced by CAFCASS as well as section 7 cases.
126087To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, whether he anticipates any reduction in the number of Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service self-employed contractors in 2006-07.
CAFCASS expects that the total number of self-employed contractors for 2006-07 will be 400, a reduction of 37 on 2005-06. Exact figures will not be available until after 31 March 2007, the date which marks the end of the financial year.
126089To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, how many vacancies there are for (a) private law and (b) public law in each of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service regions.
The table below indicates the vacancies as at 31 January 2007. CAFCASS does not categorise practitioners into private and public law.
|Vacancies (whole time equivalents)
A copy of this reply will be placed in the House Library.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether funding for child care is available to parents who accompany their child to the care facility; and if he will make a statement. 
Beverley Hughes: The Government provide funding to local authorities in the form of a General Sure Start Grant, which can be used to support child care locally. Local authorities are free to support parent and toddler groups, where parents remain with their children throughout the session, if they consider it appropriate to do so.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the potential effect of increased competition for child care places following the increase of Sure Start children centres. 
Beverley Hughes: Our 10 Year Childcare Strategy has highlighted the need for further Government support to increase the child care options open to parents especially in rural or disadvantaged areas. Since April 2005, our emphasis has been on local authorities sustaining existing good quality child care places rather than creating new ones. While Sure Start childrens centres in the most disadvantaged areas must offer integrated early learning and day care provision as part of their core services, we have never intended centres to set up in competition with good existing provision. Local authorities must consult private, voluntary and independent providers when planning their childrens centres strategy and, by working in partnership with them, plan to make the best use of the experience and expertise of local providers.
The Together for Children consortium, appointed by DfES to support local authorities with their ongoing delivery of Sure Start childrens centres, are challenging them to maximise their use of private, voluntary and community sector organisations in delivering childrens centre services.
Alan Johnson: There is no definition of the term statistics relating to the work of the Department and no centrally held information on either the volume or costs of statistics published each year on this basis.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answer of 19 February 2007 to question 121412, on the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority curriculum review, if he will place in the Library a copy of the tender document for the contract awarded (a) to Ipsos Mori, (b) to surveymonkey and (c) for the analysis of the responses to the surveymonkey survey. 
Jim Knight: Copies of the invitation to tender documents for the contracts awarded to (a) Ipsos Mori and (c) for analysis of the responses to the surveymonkey survey, have been placed in the House Library.
Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent discussions he has had on the use of certified pay slips as proof of low pay in order to meet the fee remission requirements for English for speakers of other languages courses. 
Phil Hope: My hon. Friend the Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning, who is responsible for English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), has held initial discussions on the use of pay slips and a raft of other evidence with the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). This is ongoing dialogue and is dependant upon the final report of the Race Equality Impact Assessment. Following its publication, the funding mechanisms for colleges and providers will be clarified by the LSC through further guidance.
Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what legal advice his Department has received on the legality of admissions tutors deciding whether to accept a prospective migrant worker on to a free literacy course or a fee-paying English for speakers of other languages course. 
Learning and Skills Council (LSC) guidance to providers is clear that providers should base the acceptance of any learner on to a course based on the outcome of a formal initial assessment of their learning needs and the aspirations of that learner.
Literacy and ESOL learning programmes are different in terms of the content and learner support they offer and we would expect providers to help learners make the right choice of learning programme based on the potential of the course to meet their needs and enable them to achieve a qualification and progress.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what efficiency savings have been made in his Department and its associated public bodies as a result of the Gershon review; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: The Department is reporting progress against our efficiency target through existing departmental reporting processes. We reported most recently in the Departments 2006 autumn performance report 2005 and will report further progress in the 2007 departmental performance report that we expect to publish in May.
Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions he has had with the Learning and Skills Council on the extension of self declaration as a means of verifying students' eligibility for English for speakers of other languages courses; and what mechanism is in place to ensure that colleges receive funding for such students. 
Phil Hope: My hon. Friend the Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning, who is responsible for English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), has held initial discussions on eligibility criteria and a raft of other evidence with the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). This is ongoing dialogue and is dependent upon the final report of the Race Equality Impact Assessment. Following its publication, the funding mechanisms for colleges and providers will be clarified by the LSC through further guidance.
Jim Knight [holding answer 20 March 2007]: In my written ministerial statement of 15 March I announced the publication by the Department of a summary of the data on school balances for the financial years for which information is available1999-2000 to 2005-06. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House. The information is also available on the Department's website at:
Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 19 March 2007]: From 2006-08, the Government are funding a number of projects to increase the availability of training for practitioners to work with parents. These projects range from universal services provided through mainstream settings such as extended schools and Sure Start Childrens Centres through to early intervention, prevention and targeted commitments in the Respect and Social Exclusion Action Plans. Additionally, we will establish the National Academy for Parenting Practitioners which will enable increased training and dissemination of best practice for the parenting work force. This will result in improved delivery of evidence based parenting programmes. The NAPP will become fully operational in October 2007.
Phil Hope [holding answer 15 March 2007]: The Workers Educational Association (WEA) is a specialised designated institution and has a single national contract to deliver further education, through the London Learning and Skills Council (LSC). The Department is not able to provide information on all the courses run by the WEA. However, the following table provides information on LSC funded learners on WEA courses for 2005/06 (the latest year for which we have complete data). Information for 1997 is estimated from the Further Education Funding Council who were responsible for further education funding prior to the LSC.
|Southern region (LSC south-west and LSC south-east)
|Number of funded learners
Beverley Hughes: After careful consideration we no longer intend to run the Youth Opportunity Card pilots. We have carried out, with excellent support from the 10 pilot local authorities, detailed and extensive work to assess whether the Youth Opportunity Card is deliverable and the associated costs, benefits and risks. Our conclusions are that the costs outweigh considerably the money being provided to young people, considerable risks and uncertainties remain and there is no off-the-shelf technological solution or one that can be developed with certainty at the present time.
Therefore we do not believe that going ahead with the card at this point in time would provide value for money. However, I am absolutely committed to opening up new ways of giving young people the means to make their own choices and a real say over what is provided for them. I want to continue to work with the local authorities to develop alternative means of achieving the same ends.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he had with (a) the chairman and members of the Agricultural Wages Board and (b) other bodies and persons on his Department's proposal for a regulatory reform order in respect of the board before making the decision to abandon the proposal. 
Barry Gardiner: My noble Friend the Lord Whitty, when he was Minister of State, met the chairman and other independent members of the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales on a number of occasions to discuss the future operation of the board. He also met the National Farmers Union and the Transport and General Workers Union. The possible introduction of a regulatory reform order to modernise the legislative framework was discussed at these meetings.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the reasons were for the abandonment of his Department's proposal for a regulatory reform order in respect of the Agricultural Wages Board. 
Barry Gardiner: DEFRA prioritises activities in the light of competing demands for available resources. The introduction of a regulatory reform order in respect of the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales was not considered to be a high priority in relation to current DEFRA objectives.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the likely change to his Department's budget which would result from abolishing the Agricultural Wages Board and subsuming its functions within the national minimum wage scheme.