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12 Nov 2007 : Column 65W—continued

Severn Barrage

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether his appraisal of the feasibility of a Severn Barrage will include an appraisal of alternative methods of harnessing the tidal power of the River Severn; and if he will make a statement. [163527]

Malcolm Wicks: The detailed remit for the feasibility study is now being scoped. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will make a statement on this point in due course.

Sports: Clubs

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether sports clubs whose members pay for their membership by instalments are required to hold consumer credit licences; and if he will make a statement. [163106]

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Mr. Thomas: The Consumer Credit Act 1974 requires that most businesses that offer goods or services on credit hold a consumer credit licence. Golf clubs and other private sports clubs which allow for payment of annual membership fees in more than four instalments may need a consumer credit licence. However, whether or not a licence is required will be dependent on the individual circumstances applicable to the operation of each individual club such as whether or not the club is classified as ‘carrying on a business’, if so whether this would be classified as ‘occasional business’ and whether the particular club’s agreements might be subject to any exemptions.

Given that unlicensed trading is a criminal offence, the Office of Fair Trading advice has been for clubs to apply for a consumer credit licence if they are in any doubt.

Agreements between clubs and their members may involve substantial loans and as such are as appropriately subject to regulation under the Consumer Credit Act as other types of agreements where credit is provided.

Duchy of Lancaster

Policy Review

Mr. Allen: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he expects to begin the next Policy Review programme. [162552]

Edward Miliband: The Government review their policies on an ongoing basis and will continue to address the key strategic challenges facing the country, consulting with the public and stakeholders as we move forward.

Leader of the House

Leader of the Opposition: Travel

Norman Baker: To ask the Leader of the House whether funds are provided from the public purse for travel by (a) rail and (b) air by the Leader of the Opposition in his capacity as such. [162491]

Ms Harman: Financial assistance to opposition parties, known as Short Money, is governed by the resolution of the House of Commons of 26 May 1999, in which the purpose of the payments is described as being

The resolution provides specifically for funds to opposition parties for travelling and associated expenses necessarily incurred by party spokesmen in relation to the party's parliamentary business. In addition, assistance is available for costs necessarily incurred in running the office of the Leader of the Opposition.

There are no restrictions or rules on the mode of travel that can be used in carrying out parliamentary business.

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Legislative Process

Simon Hughes: To ask the Leader of the House when she will publish a summary of consultation responses to the draft legislative programme. [162787]

Ms Harman: The Government’s Draft Legislative Programme—Taking a Wider View will be published shortly. I will ensure the hon. Gentleman receives a copy.


Departmental Expenditure

David Simpson: To ask the Minister for the Olympics how much has been spent by her Office on official hospitality since its establishment. [161940]

Tessa Jowell: Details of any expenditure in 2007-08 will be available when the Department’s resource accounts are fully audited and laid before Parliament.

Olympic Games 2012: Finance

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Minister for the Olympics whether any of the £2.7 billion contingency fund announced as part of the Olympic budget in March 2007 is drawn from the National Lottery. [162086]

Tessa Jowell: Contingency funding will only be called upon where it is absolutely necessary, as agreed by the ministerial funders’ group. Any draw-down of contingency will include a proportionate contribution of funds from each of the contributors.

The lottery’s contribution to the contingency is a matter for the Olympic Lottery Distributor. They have indicated their intention that around 20 per cent. of the £2.747 billion contingency could be met from lottery funds included in the £9.325 billion funding package, announced on 15 March 2007.

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Minister for the Olympics what the forecast of (a) VAT, (b) contingency and (c) legacy transportation costs of the main Olympic stadium will be, with reference to the answer of 22 October 2007, Official Report, column 48W, on Olympic Games: Greater London. [162275]

Tessa Jowell: The cost of the main Olympic stadium is £496 million inclusive of VAT, allowance for inflation, some site works, and legacy conversion. No further breakdown can be provided at this point as this information is commercially confidential.

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Minister for the Olympics with reference to the answer of 18 April 2007, Official Report, columns 638-39W, on London Olympics (Ref 129383 and 129384), if she will provide a more detailed breakdown of the planned expenditure on the Olympic Park and infrastructure and regeneration. [162278]

Tessa Jowell: I will do so early in the new year.

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Children, Schools and Families

Literacy Standards

14. Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will make a statement on literacy standards in primary schools. [161968]

Jim Knight: Standards of literacy in our primary schools are at their highest levels ever. 80 per cent. of 11-year-olds are now reaching the target level in English, compared to 63 per cent. in 1997. This means that around 100,000 more pupils a year are reaching the expected standard for their age.

The renewed primary literacy strategy, with a stronger emphasis on phonics, Every Child a Reader and Every Child a Writer to help those pupils who are struggling will help to ensure that we maintain and extend the improvements we have already achieved.

Educational Standards

16. Mr. Vara: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps his Department is taking to raise standards in primary schools. [161970]

Jim Knight: Since 1997, we've doubled funding per pupil in real terms. We have put over 200,000 more adults in classrooms. Results are rising. At key stage 2, attainment in all subjects is at the highest levels and we have narrowed the gap between boys and girls. Early signs are that we have achieved our primary schools floor target a year early. We aim to deliver a world-class education system.

Personalised learning, the national strategies, the new emphasis on progression, every child a reader, every child a writer, every child counts and continued investment will continue to transform standards in primary schools.

Foreign Languages

17. Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many pupils took at least one (a) GCSE and (b) A-level in a modern language in the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [161971]

Jim Knight: Between 2003 and 2006 the number of A Level entries in French, German and Spanish decreased slightly, from 23,476 to 22,926. The number Increased to 23,306 in 2007.

Between 2003 and 2007 the number of GCSE entries in modern foreign languages decreased from 453,900 to 301,400.

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many primary schools in England teach a modern foreign language. [161953]

Jim Knight: Research carried out in 2006 found that 70 per cent. of primary schools are teaching languages. This is up from 44 per cent. in 2003.

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Children’s Homes: Missing Children

18. Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many children went missing from children's homes in each of the last three years. [161972]

Beverley Hughes: During 2005, 290 children went missing from their children's home on one occasion or more. The figure for 2006 was the same, and in 2007, it was 300. This figure excludes children receiving short-term respite care. The Government recognise how significant these episodes are for the children involved, and issued statutory guidance to local authorities to specify the arrangements they must make to reduce the risk of children running away, and to deal with it appropriately when it happens.

The ‘Care Matters: Time for Change’ White Paper reiterated our commitment to:

Work across Government to ensure that the specific needs of unaccompanied asylum seeking children who go missing from care are reflected. Joint DCSF and Home Office guidance on safeguarding children who may have been trafficked is being finalised and will be issued shortly.

Capital Expenditure: York

19. Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the average annual capital expenditure was in respect of York schools since 1997-98; and how much was spent in 1996-97. [161973]

Jim Knight: The Department does not maintain local authority records on an expenditure basis, as the timing and amount of expenditure is determined by each local authority. The average annual capital allocation by the Department to York schools for the 11 year period 1997-98 to 2007-08 is £9.83 million. The allocation in 1996-97 was £0.83 million.

Education Leaving Age

20. Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will make a statement on the Government's proposals that all young people should remain in education or training until the age of 18. [161974]

Ed Balls: We announced last week our intention to legislate to raise the participation age, so that all young people continue in education or training until 18 from 2015. The legislation builds on the Green Paper
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published in March and the booklet 'Raising Expectations' published on Monday.

We believe that this will give our young people the best chance to achieve and succeed, leading to improved life chances, and allow our economy to continue to compete internationally.

Basic Needs Allocation

21. Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether he intends to review the formula for the basic needs allocation; and if he will make a statement. [161975]

Jim Knight: I had a discussion on this issue with the hon. Member and with my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, South-West (Dr. Starkey), on Wednesday 7 November. I explained that it was not practicable to change the basic needs formula , as such a change would have a knock-on effect on allocations to all other authorities. I also said that I would ask my officials, working with Milton Keynes' officials, to review the position of that authority and to report back to me.

Creative Partnerships Programme

22. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the impact of the Creative Partnerships Programme on schools. [161976]

Jim Knight: There have been four independent evaluations of the Creative Partnerships programme. These were considered by the Education and Skills Select Committee, of which my hon. Friend was a member, in preparing their report on Creative Partnerships and the Curriculum. We are currently considering options for the future of the programme beyond 2008 and the Committee's recommendations will help us to develop our thinking. A formal response to the report will be made in due course.

Special Educational Needs

23. Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families when he will respond to the Education and Skills Committee Report on Special Educational Needs: Assessment and Funding. [161977]

Kevin Brennan: We will be responding to the Committee’s report in due course.


Mrs. Cryer: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what plans he has to improve the provision of advice, information and support to parents with particular reference to material in languages other than English. [161967]

Kevin Brennan: Access to information empowers parents. Local authorities already provide information on child care to parents and the Childcare Act 2006 extends the requirement to a wider range of information from April 2008. Authorities decide how
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and in what languages to provide information but we expect them to meet the needs of local parents. We are investing £34 million in our new Parent Know How information service which will begin operating from April 2008.

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

Lynda Waltho: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps he is taking to improve education provision for children born with foetal alcohol spectrum disorders. [161969]

Kevin Brennan: Many children born with foetal alcohol spectrum disorders have special educational needs. Schools and local authorities must have regard to the SEN Code of Practice when carrying out statutory duties to identify, assess and make provision for special educational needs—including children whose needs arise from foetal alcohol spectrum disorders. The code highlights the importance of education, social care and health services working together to meet the needs of all children with special educational needs.

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