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The Learning and Skills Council plans to announce increases in the funding rates for school sixth forms as well as the details of its new funding methodology, to be used for school sixth forms and other 16-18 provision, including transitional measures to smooth the introduction of the new formula. Sixth form funding will therefore no longer be taken into account when local authorities apply the MFG to schools with sixth forms. We will announce in December allocations of the specific formula grant to support the introduction of diplomas from September 2008. That will augment the £110 million we allocated through
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DSG in 2007-08 to support practical learning options. That funding is now part of the DSG baseline going forward and we expect local authorities to utilise it to support the roll out of diplomas.

This settlement builds on the foundations of the last ten years of rapid growth in school funding: every school and local authority will receive increases in funding per pupil each year; but every school will also face the challenge of making their funding work harder in support of our shared aims. On top of the basic increases there is significant additional funding to support our priorities: the personalisation of teaching and learning, support for all pupils to make good progress, the extension of the early years offer to parents, and extended children’s services provided from schools. And a three year settlement supports schools as they take better informed, long term, strategic decisions.


Defence Technology Plan

The Minister for the Armed Forces (Mr. Bob Ainsworth): The Ministry of Defence has today announced the development of the Defence Technology Plan (DTP), a cost-balanced list of Research and Development (R&D) priorities for the MOD. The DTP will build upon the Defence Technology Strategy (DTS), published in October 2006, and will provide clear direction to the R&D community, allowing industry and academia better to direct its investment in defence technology. Population of the DTP will continue throughout 2008.

The DTP will be a plan starting with capability driven research goals, showing how the goals will be met by R&D activity supporting later phases of acquisition.

The DTP will set out the R&D programme by presenting a number of high level R&D objectives in the form of technology roadmaps. Each R&D objective will be described in similar terms to allow the R&D board to provide strategic direction and oversight of the entire programme.

The DTP is being developed by R&D staff in consultation with the wider stakeholder community and will be owned by the Defence R&D Board. DTP will have a dynamic online format, allowing regular updates when necessary and will be available in three versions; a Government version available on internal networks, a defence industry version available to appropriately security cleared companies and a public version available on the internet.


Figures on Delayed Discharges

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Ivan Lewis): In response to questions from the hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb), the Department placed tables in the Library on 29 October containing the numbers of patients in hospitals whose discharge had been delayed, and the total and the total number of bed nights in each hospital trust lost as a result of such delays, Official Report, column 1030W.

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Following further investigation of the data collection and reporting systems used to compile that information I have to report that the information published contained significant errors that overstated the numbers in each category.

Contrary to the impression given by the original inaccurate tables and subsequent media reports, the situation is that bed days lost because of delayed discharges have decreased by approximately 5 per cent. in the past year. The revised information is available in the Library.

Electronic Patient Record

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): The Government have today laid before Parliament their response to the Health Select Committee report on the electronic patient record and its use (Cm 7264).

In the response, the Government welcome the Committee’s findings on the potential of electronic patient records to improve health care services and patient safety. While significant progress has already been made, it is recognised that some parts of the National Programme for IT in the National Health Service have been subject to delay. The Government also recognise that continuing effort is needed to engage with front-line NHS staff and to communicate the programme plans to the public.

The response is available in the Library.

Leader of the House

Topical Debates

The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): The House recently approved (25 October 2007) the introduction of topical debates, as recommended by the Select Committee on Modernisation in its report, “Revitalising the Chamber: the role of the back bench Member”(1). This will extend the opportunities in the Chamber to discuss topical issues of regional, national or international importance. Topical debates will last for 90 minutes and take place on a weekly basis.

A Member seeking such a debate may do so in the following ways:

Following discussions, the House will be notified of the subject selected, either during the announcement of business on Thursday or through the Order Paper, depending on the date chosen for the debate. The subject will appear on the annunciator alongside other business

As agreed by the House, the motion for these debates will be “That this House has considered [the matter of XXX]” and will not be amendable. The debates will be subject to limits on speeches as agreed by the House.


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Work and Pensions


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mrs. Anne McGuire): We have today received Remploy's final modernisation proposals. Good progress was made during the consultation period under the chairmanship of Roger Poole, and although the negotiations concluded with a formal failure to agree, we feel there has been real dialogue between the company and their trade unions and progress on both sides. We also expect to receive further representations from the trade unions representing the Remploy workers.

The talks identified some important common ground, in particular:

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Ministers have committed that Remploy's revised proposals will receive full ministerial scrutiny before any final decision. We will therefore study them in detail before making a further statement to the House in due course.

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