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Mr. Timms [holding answer 6 October 2008]: The Government believe it is important to have a stable tax system that provides certainty for individuals and businesses, along with a commitment to fairness. The Government have therefore always limited the use of provisions applied to taxable events that have occurred prior to the enactment of the new policy. Only where the Government consider that it is necessary to protect revenue and also that it is fair, proportionate and in the public interest, will such provisions be used.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the status is of the contractual arrangement between Rightmove.co.uk plc and the Valuation Office; and whether the Valuation Office Agency continues to use the Rightmove interface to collect property data on domestic dwellings. 
Bob Russell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what time scale targets are placed on HM Revenue and Customs to register applications by companies for value added tax purposes; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms: HM Revenue and Customs do not have a time scale target for companies alone but have a departmental strategic objective to process 70 per cent. of VAT registration applications from all businesses within 10 days by 2010-11.
Bob Russell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many new companies are waiting for their applications for registration for value added tax purposes to be finalised by HM Revenue and Customs; what the longest waiting time was in the last three years from date of application; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the percentage of people in employment in the public sector who are categorised as having learning difficulties. 
As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking what estimate has been made of the percentage of people in employment in the public sector who are categorised as having learning difficulties. (214291)
For the three month period ending in June 2008, it is estimated that 0.3 per cent of people who reported that they were employed in the public sector said that they had severe or specific learning difficulties.
The estimates are derived from the Labour Force Survey. As with any sample survey, estimates from the LFS are subject to a margin of uncertainty.
Maria Eagle: The Government are fully committed to providing appropriate alternatives to custody for women who are not violent or dangerous, in line with Baroness Corston's review of vulnerable women in the criminal justice system. I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues on this matter through the Inter Ministerial Group on reducing re-offending and the Inter Ministerial sub-group on Corston implementation.
14. John Robertson: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what steps the Government is taking to ensure that men and women receive equal pay for work of equal value; and if she will make a statement. 
Maria Eagle: The Government fund organisations ACAS, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and BusinessLink, to which employees and employers can go to for advice and support. We introduced the equal pay questionnaire in 2003 to help people who believe they may not have received equal pay. They can use this to request vital information from their employers in order to establish whether they have a case.
Maria Eagle: The Governments proposals for the Equality Bill include the banning of secrecy clauses which prevent people discussing their own pay, extending the use of positive action, and getting public bodies to report on important inequalities such as gender pay. The Government will also work with business and unions to improve pay transparency, and consider the case for introducing representative actions in discrimination cases.
Maria Eagle: We are taking steps to strengthen parental rights, improve provision of child care and extend the right to request flexible working. We have also strengthened laws to tackle sexual harassment and protect pregnant women. We are tackling low pay in the workplace through the national minimum wage and tax credits. There is still more to do, and we intend to take further steps through the Equality Bill.
There are now 130 academies open in 62 local authorities, with a further four projected to open in January 2009 (taking the totals to 134 in 64 LAs). I anticipate that a further 80 will open in 2009 and a further 100 in 2010.
The Government are committed to establishing at least 400 academies nationwide; and the National Challenge, launched this year by the Prime Minister and Secretary of State, has led to a further acceleration of the academies programme.
Self-reported provisional data from academies show that in this years GCSE results, academies have increased by around five percentage points the proportion of pupils with at least five good GCSE results including English and maths compared to last year. This is the third year running that academies are likely to have achieved a substantially better improvement rate than the national average for all schools.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what his estimate is of the number of children in academies in each year from 2002 to 2008; what proportion was entitled to free school meals in each year; and if he will make a statement. 
|Maintained secondary schools and academies: school meal arrangements( 1: ) Position in January each year 2003 to 2008: England|
|Maintained secondary schools||Academies|
|Number of pupils (used for FSM calculation)||Number of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals||% of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals||Number of pupils (used for FSM calculation)||Number of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals||% of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals|
|(1) Pupils are recorded as eligible only if a claim for free school meals has been made.|
Pupil numbers have been rounded to the nearest 10.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many (a) parent governors and (b) local authority governors there are for each academy; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Knight: We do not hold information on the precise number of parent and LA governors for each academy, but as part of their funding agreements, all academies must have at least one local authority representative on their governing body, and at least one parent governor.
Jim Knight: New academies are eligible for two types of start-up grants. Start-up grant (a) is for books, materials and equipment. It is based on the expected pupil capacity of the academy and most of the total grant is paid in the first year after opening, although smaller amounts are payable in later years if pupil numbers are initially below 90 per cent. of capacity. Its value depends on whether there is a predecessor school and whether the academy has a sixth form. The average awarded to academies opening in 2008/09 was £873,601.
Start-up (b) grant is paid for two main purposes: to cover senior management overhead costs while an academy is building to capacity, and to meet transitional costs, for instance those arising while building work makes some facilities unusable, or meeting curriculum commitments for students of predecessor schools. It is mostly paid in the first two or three years after opening but will continue for longer if an academy has no predecessor. Because the grant (which is partly formulaic and partly assessed from bids) depends on the circumstances of each academy, the amounts awarded vary considerably. For academies opening in 2008/09, the average awarded has been £969,104 (the median was £780,335, with sums ranging from £122,740 to £3,203,252).
Academies governing bodies have freedom to set pay and conditions for staff. However, staff transferring from predecessor schools are protected by TUPE and so it is likely that most academies will have some teachers on national pay and conditions.
Academies may use their freedoms around pay and conditions in order to tailor the teaching to the needs of the pupils. For example, many have varied the length of the school day and year, to better serve the demands of the pupils and communities.
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