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Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 23 October 2008

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Global Entrepreneurship Week

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Ian Pearson): My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Competitiveness and Small Business has made the following ministerial statement.

This year is the first ever Global Entrepreneurship Week, an initiative inspired by DBERR and co-founded with the Kauffman Foundation in the USA. Between 17 and 23 November, people in more that 70 countries will participate in a variety of events: collaborating online, sharing ideas and developing entrepreneurial solutions to shared problems.

Global Entrepreneurship Week will enable potential entrepreneurs to network globally. It will engage people in school, at home, on the web and at work. Through this initiative, the next wave of entrepreneurs will be inspired and emerge. In doing so, they will begin to acquire the knowledge, skills, networks and values needed to grow innovative, sustainable enterprises that have a positive impact on their lives and the lives of those around them.

Global Entrepreneurship Week is being run for the Government by the “Make Your Mark” campaign—which aims to inspire young people, aged 14 to 30 years, as well as older entrepreneurs, ethnic minorities and women to be enterprising in the broadest sense, developing a creative, can-do attitude with the skills to spot opportunities and the confidence to pursue them. This agenda is crucial to the future aspirations of millions of people as well as the economic future of the UK—encouraging business start-ups, social enterprises and the development of an enterprising workforce. Wednesday 19 November and Thursday 20 November will be Women’s Enterprise Day and Social Enterprise Day respectively.

“Make Your Mark” is funded by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and is led by Enterprise Insight—a campaign coalition founded by the UK’s leading business organisations, the CBI, British Chambers of Commerce, Institute of Directors, and the Federation of Small Businesses, in partnership with the main enterprise development organisations and working closely with Government Departments, education bodies, regional development agencies and others.

Global Entrepreneurship Week will form part of the UK’s fifth Enterprise Week. Last year, Enterprise Week was an enormous success and generated community interest in entrepreneurship; 584,000 people attended the 5,270 events run by 3,002 organisations. The single
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largest activity was the “Make Your Mark” challenge. This involved 38,000 students from schools, colleges and universities working in over 7,000 teams, a 94 per cent. increase on 2006. One in six secondary schools took part. There were significant increases in the number of events specifically aimed at women/girls and ethnic minorities—respectively these were 275 and 385 events, representing 108 per cent. and 274 per cent. increases on 2006, and there was more than double the number of social enterprise events, 354, a 55 per cent. increase on 2006.

Solutions for Business

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Ian Pearson): Effective business support can help individuals realise their entrepreneurial potential, help businesses start and succeed, and help communities prosper and flourish—whether the economic climate is stable or uncertain.

Most support is provided by the private sector, but where there is market failure it is appropriate for the Government to intervene.

Today I am setting out how the Government are simplifying publicly funded support to make it more effective, easier to access and value for money. Businesses have said they want a simpler system focused on their needs and this is essential in the current circumstances.

A single “Solutions for Business Funded by Government” package of measures includes:

These measures will make it easier for companies—small and large, new or existing, starting or growing—to find the right products to help them with common business issues such as start-up, finance, export, skills, environment, innovation and growth.

The “Solutions for Business” package offers a long term, sustainable remedy to publicly funded support and sets out the Government offer to business. The products will be tightly managed, monitored and evaluated to ensure they continue to meet business needs and are effective. And, the portfolio will be kept flexible and responsive to business need with new products added, or taken away, accordingly.

We envisage that as a result of these measures business will benefit by up to £1.4 billion per year as products work harder for them alongside £1.5 million per year in saved search costs.

To support this announcement the Government are publishing:

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Copies of the documents will be placed in the Libraries of the House and will be available on the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform website at:


These measures take forward the commitment made by the Government in Budget 2006 to simplify the current publicly funded support framework by 2010 to give business customers a better service. Better business support underpins our strategies to make the UK the world’s most enterprising economy and will reinforce the wider steps the Government are taking to help business at the present time. It will also help Government achieve social and environmental goals; widening inclusion and helping companies go green.

Children, Schools and Families

Education and Skills Bill

The Minister for Schools and Learners (Jim Knight): Today the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families will table amendments to the Education and Skills Bill in advance of its Report stage in the other place. The amendments relate to national curriculum testing at key stage 3.

On 14 October, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families announced that from the summer of 2009, children would not be required to take key stage 3 national curriculum tests.

In light of this, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State is tabling these amendments now in order to remove the obligation on schools and local authorities to administer key stage 3 tests from 2009 onwards.

The effect of section 88 of the Education Act 2002 requires the national curriculum, including assessment arrangements, to be in place at the start of the school year in order for it to be implemented that year.

The amendments provide an exemption for assessment arrangements from the general requirement that schools implement the national curriculum as it stands at the start of the school year.

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin will write to interested peers to outline in more detail our reasons for no longer requiring children to take national curriculum tests at key stage 3. A copy of this letter will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education

The Minister for Schools and Learners (Jim Knight): The importance of good quality Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education—PSHE—has never been greater. PSHE has a major contribution to make to young people’s personal development and well-being—a key indicator of the success of a 21st century school.

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The issues it covers are central to young people’s well-being:

There has been progress in PSHE over the years as a result of: the National Healthy Schools Programme which requires schools to meet criteria for PSHE; the national PSHE CPD programme which has trained over 8,000 teachers; QCA units of work and assessment guidance; departmental guidance on SRE, drugs, safety and financial capability; work with ITT providers; research on why PSHE thrives; and the recent £11.5 million boost for financial capability support programmes for schools. Through their subject reports, Ofsted describe an improving picture. In 2005-06, primary school pupils’ achievement in PSHE was good in about four out of five schools. At KS3 and 4 achievement was good or better in over half of lessons.

However, we know that concerns about the quality of teaching and learning in PSHE persist, particularly around sex and relationships education. Teachers can be required to teach PSHE without any training. We must improve the skills and confidence of the teaching workforce. Young people are telling us provision is not meeting their needs, particularly in relation to the relationships aspect of SRE and drug and alcohol issues. Such evidence was most recently highlighted in the UK Youth Parliament report and in subsequent research commissioned with young people to inform the SRE review.

The SRE and drugs/alcohol reviews published today also provide evidence, including from young people themselves, that the quality of what is on offer varies significantly and is not meeting young people’s needs. We are grateful to all those who have worked on these reviews.

The reviews have made a number of recommendations. These include strengthening the reach and impact of the current PSHE CPD programme; developing an ITT route for training PSHE specialist teachers; updating the Department’s guidance to schools on SRE and drugs education; and including a measure of the quality of PSHE in the indicators that Ofsted will use to assess the contribution that schools are making to their pupils’ well-being.

In our overall forward work on PSHE we will be governed by the following principles:

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The reviews have also recommended that PSHE as a whole should become a statutory subject in both the primary and secondary phases. This is already the case for some elements:

Under existing legislation parents have the right to withdraw their children from sex education, except insofar as the sex education forms part of a national curriculum programme of study—for example, the biological elements of science.

However, all other aspects of PSHE are non-statutory.

There are strong arguments for making the whole of PSHE a statutory subject. This would underline the key role PSHE has to play in young people’s personal development. It is consistent with the emphasis in the children’s plan on schools developing young people in the round, as well as ensuring that they receive an excellent education, and with the priority we expect schools to give the issues that it covers. We have decided therefore that PSHE should have statutory status. In making this decision we want to work with schools and stakeholders to ensure that young people’s experience at school addresses their needs and supports them as they develop.

We also recognise three areas of concern:

These are complicated issues that need to be worked through thoroughly. I have therefore asked Sir Alasdair Macdonald to engage with stakeholders and report on how our intention to make PSHE statutory, and the legitimate concerns of schools and parents, can be translated into a practicable way forward. I have asked Sir Alasdair to report to me in April 2009.

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Home Department

Dutch DNA Profiles: Police Investigation

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Meg Hillier): My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary undertook that Ministers, would report to Parliament once the police investigation, following liaison with the Dutch authorities over data from a disc containing Dutch DNA crime scene profiles were complete. I am today able to fulfil that commitment.

As previously reported, this followed an initiative to exchange data between the UK and the Netherlands. The Dutch authorities shared a disk containing 2,159 DNA profiles from crime scenes in the Netherlands, which were searched against the UK national DNA database. It is important to note two operational implications of searching these data. First, it cannot be assumed that the DNA from the Dutch crime scenes opens up a significant line of inquiry and identifies offenders, as there may be an innocent reason for some DNA, for example on a discarded cigarette end, being found at the scene. As with CPS policy here, we understand that the Dutch authorities will not take executive action on the basis of a DNA result alone and need to consider carefully the significance of a DNA match in each case. Secondly, many of the crime scene DNA profiles contained incomplete or partial information. These profiles have required additional scientific analysis by the UK and Dutch authorities to confirm whether or not there was indeed a match between a person sampled in the UK and a DNA profile from the Netherlands.

Once the Dutch disc was passed to the National Policing Improvement Agency in January 2008 action was taken quickly to address public concerns. The custodian of the national DNA database immediately began batching and comparing the Dutch crime scene profiles against the UK DNA database, with details of the complete DNA matches passed to the Dutch in March 2008. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) set up a gold group chaired by Gary Pugh, chair of the National DNA Database Strategy Board. This group comprised police and prosecuting interests and the Home Office and was set up to steer and direct operations, deal with any requests for further co-operation from the Dutch and to deal with any public protection issues triggered by intelligence about links with unsolved crimes in the Netherlands. The key objective was to identify individuals on the UK DNA database whose DNA matched samples recovered from crimes scenes in the Netherlands so that any dangerous offenders would be identified and the risks posed by them effectively managed. The individuals have been located and a detailed risk assessment carried out. Mr. Pugh has reported that the work of the group has now been completed and that the gold group is being stood down.

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