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6 May 2009 : Column 303W—continued

6 May 2009 : Column 304W

The Secretary of State will provide an update to Parliament in the spring about progress towards being fully operational.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole (Annette Brooke) of 20 April 2009, Official Report, column 233W, on children: databases, if he will place in the Library a copy of each letter and email. [271471]

Beverley Hughes: These documents form part of the normal and ongoing implementation process between my Department and the local authorities. A considerable amount of time and money, both centrally and locally would be required to ensure that they did not include material that:

I believe to make these documents available would inhibit the free and frank exchange of views which is critical to the success of projects of this nature, and therefore they will not be published.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families which local authorities have raised concerns with his Department about tracing co-resident children in ContactPoint; and what concerns each such authority has raised. [271501]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 27 April 2009]: ContactPoint's prime objective is to identify who else is working with a child, not to trace all other children in a particular location.

Three local authorities have provided feedback that the functionality to locate co-resident children, in some cases has not shown any records to the user. This is because, in these cases, the number of children that the system identifies as potentially co-resident is in excess of limits on ContactPoint that are in place to prevent trawling.

We are, as with all feedback received, during this learning phase, evaluating it; and any identified improvements will be considered for implementation.

These responses were sent in confidence and as part of the normal, ongoing discussion between the Department and the local authorities; and as part of the implementation process of the project.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what his most recent assessment is of the performance of the ContactPoint database in penetration tests. [272083]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 30 April 2009]: ContactPoint has undergone security penetration testing in accordance with Government policy for the assurance and risk management of information assets. The findings of all penetration tests have been appropriately addressed.

While it is not appropriate to report externally on the detail of these tests, periodic penetration testing of ContactPoint is a key element of the framework of measures that provide the required assurance that an appropriate level of security has been established and is being maintained for the system.

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Children: Protection

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will publish anonymised versions of the full serious case reviews into the deaths in Doncaster of (a) Alfie Goddard, (b) Child A, (c) Child AO6 and (d) Child BO5. [253077]

Beverley Hughes: Paragraph 8.33 of ‘Working Together To Safeguard Children’ 2006 states that

Executive summaries are available on the Doncaster Safeguarding Children Board website in respect of Child A, Child A06 and Child B05. The executive summary for AG has not yet been published.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Justice on the effect on child protection of proposed reductions in funding for legally-aided family cases. [271506]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 30 April 2009]: The Government are fully committed to safeguarding vulnerable children and I am clear that it is important we secure the right level of support for these children within the family justice system. Officials from the Department, the Legal Services Commission (LSC), the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) have already had discussions about how to achieve this. Further discussions are planned in the light of the consultation responses, following the MOJ/LSC consultation on Family Legal Aid Funding 2010.

Helen Southworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families when he plans to publish the Missing from Home and Care guidance; and if he will make a statement. [272885]

Beverley Hughes: The draft version of the revised Missing from Home and Care guidance was published on the DCSF website for public consultation in January 2009 and consultation events were held in York, Manchester and London in February. The consultation came to an end in April 2009 and my officials are working closely with a group of experts, including members of the English Coalition for Runaway Children, to amend the guidance as a result of the responses received.

I anticipate that the guidance will be published in electronic form in mid to late June. When the outcomes of the review into emergency accommodation provision are known, we will consider the implications on our statutory guidance to local authorities in this area and revise this section of the guidance accordingly. The guidance will then be published in hard copy towards the end of the year.

By publishing the guidance in electronic form in June, local authorities will be able to use it to help them implement the requirements of National Indicator 71—“Missing from Home and Care”.

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Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families with reference to page 66 of “The Protection of Children in England: a progress report”, HC330, what recent estimate he has made of vacancy rates within child protection teams. [265232]

Mr. Coaker: I have been asked to reply.

Information on the vacancy rates within child protection teams is not recorded centrally. It is for individual chief constables to assess their own staffing priorities and decide how best to address the vacancy rates within child protection teams.

The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families intends to publish a detailed action plan in response to Lord Laming’s recommendations on 6 May 2009.

Local Safeguarding Children Boards

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what indicators his Department uses to monitor the performance of local safeguarding children boards; and if he will make a statement; [258351]

(2) what safeguards exist to ensure (a) openness and (b) fairness in the operation of local safeguarding children boards; and if he will make a statement. [258354]

Beverley Hughes: I apologise to the hon. Member for the delay in responding to this question. I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to a similar question on 31 March 2009, Official Report, column 1131W.

Local Safeguarding Children Boards' (LSCBs) compliance and effectiveness in their statutory role to develop policies and procedures for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is monitored by local authority scrutiny, through peer review based on self-evaluation, performance indicators and joint audit and through the judgments made by inspectorates. The work of LSCBs has to be planned properly and fit within a framework of action set out in the Children and Young People's Plan.

Ofsted assesses and inspects local authority area level services for children, including the effectiveness of the LSCB. It has done so through annual performance assessments (APAs) and joint area reviews (JARs) of children's services. From April 2009 it will do so, with other inspectorates, as part of new arrangements for comprehensive area assessment (CAA). There will also be a three yearly cycle of inspections specifically of safeguarding and services for looked after children, undertaken by Ofsted and the new Care Quality Commission.

In his recent report, ‘The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report’, Lord Laming states that

Lord Laming's report makes a number of recommendations designed to strengthen further the positive impact of LSCBs. The Government have accepted Lord Laming's
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recommendations and set out in their immediate response, published on 12 March, how we will strengthen the role of the LSCB so that they challenge every member of the Children's Trust, through the Children's Trust Board, on their success in ensuring that children and young people are kept safe. The LSCB should also publish an annual report on the effectiveness of arrangements locally for keeping children safe, as recommended by Lord Laming.

The Government will publish a detailed response to all Lord Laming's recommendations on 6 May 2009.

Schools: Influenza

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what estimate he has made of the number of schools with the capacity to provide education remotely in the event of school closure necessitated by a flu pandemic; [272906]

(2) what guidance his Department has issued to schools on contingency preparations for a flu pandemic; [272971]

(3) what scientific advice the Government have received on the appropriate time to issue advice to schools on closures in the event of a pandemic; [272972]

(4) what provisions he plans to make to support students with special educational needs in the event of school closures owing to a pandemic; [272973]

(5) what steps he has taken to ensure that schools have stocks of (a) personal protective equipment and (b) personal cleansing materials necessary in the event of an influenza pandemic; [272974]

(6) what steps he plans to take to keep schools informed of the levels of infection in their areas in the event of an influenza pandemic; [272975]

(7) what guidance he has issued to schools on measures to ensure that children are able to make up learning forgone because of school closures during any pandemic. [272976]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The Department issued guidance in 2006 on contingency measures for pandemic flu, which we supplemented with guidance on infection control (2007) and remote learning in the event of a school closing for an extended period (2008). The Department sent out reminders in the week commencing 27 April 2009 that the guidance is available. We also drew the attention of local authorities, schools and others to the raising of the World Health Organisation’s level of alert to phase 5 and the increased urgency for existing plans to be reviewed, drawing on the Department’s guidance. The Department issued a note to schools and local authorities on 5 May 2009, which included a comprehensive brief on issues of interest to the education sector.

The pandemic flu and infection control guidance were informed by advice from the Health Protection Agency. Local authorities have a responsibility for vulnerable children in their area and they must plan to ensure that essential services can operate for the provision of education for all children including those with special educational needs. Our guidance on infection control includes advice on the use and disposal of personal protection equipment
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and clothes and the use of cleansing materials. It is for schools and local agencies to liaise on making these available.

The Department has set out in its guidance to schools and children’s services on planning for a human influenza pandemic, the communication channels through which it would communicate any decisions that schools should close or re-open.

The remote learning guidance referred to above aims to help the provision of ongoing education in the event of a school not being able to open. It is our belief that this will lessen the impact on pupils’ learning because their school is closed due to pandemic flu.

Schools: Sports

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much funding from (a) the public purse and (b) the National Lottery has been spent on school sport in each of the last five years. [272765]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: In the last five years from 2004-05 to 2008-09, a total of £1.134 billion has been spent on PE and school sport via the Exchequer. A further £679.8 million has been spent on school sports programmes via the Big Lottery Fund. These programmes include PE and Sport in Schools, Spaces for Sports and Arts and School Sports Co-ordinators. Awards have also been made to projects that have contributed to school sports through other Big Lottery Fund grant programmes including Community Sports programmes, Football Foundation, Awards for All and Reaching Communities. School sport also benefits from awards from the four home country sports lottery distributing bodies.

Energy and Climate Change

Carbon Emissions

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what his Department's policy is on the criteria for access to international funding for the purposes of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation and degradation. [265838]

Joan Ruddock [holding answer 23 March 2009]: The Bali Action Plan (2007) calls for consideration of policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in developing countries. This is in addition to the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries. The UK supported the commitment that the needs of local communities and indigenous people will be addressed when action is taken to reduce emissions from deforestation and recognised the relevant provisions of other international agreements such as the convention on biological diversity (CBD) to support the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Any payment for mitigation is expected to be paid post carbon saved. Consequently an agreement on baselines and a reliable framework for monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) is needed to ensure the integrity and
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credibility of REDD efforts. This needs to take into account national, sub-national and sector and project level MRV.

However there is an understanding that finance is needed for up-front investment and capacity building costs. We expect that such funding will take into account, as with existing funds, country preparedness and ability—institutional and otherwise—to undertake REDD initiatives, taking into account Government efforts to date and Government willingness to move to a strategic approach to REDD and to integrate the role of forests into development.

Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will introduce the proposed pay as you save initiative in advance of 2013. [269517]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government are currently consulting on options to encourage householders to install energy saving and renewable technologies by providing financial mechanisms which spread the costs of these measures over time, so that the costs are more than offset by savings on bills. The consultation, which also covers the broader heat and energy saving strategy, closes on 8 May and we encourage stakeholders to send in their views.

Housing: Standards

Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on the introduction of the PassivHaus standard; and if he will make a statement. [249736]

Joan Ruddock: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has had no discussions regarding the introduction of the ‘PassivHaus’ standard with ministerial colleagues. Issues regarding the energy efficiency of new builds fall within the remit of the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Insulation: Housing

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change pursuant to the answer of 27 April 2009, Official Report, columns 1128-9W, on insulation: housing, how many homes have been insulated since the commencement of the heat and energy saving strategy; and if he will make a statement. [272478]

Joan Ruddock: The Heat and Energy Saving Strategy (HESS) consultation, published on 12 February, seeks views on our long-term strategy to deliver energy and carbon savings through the next decade and beyond. In particular, the package of policies under consideration aims to ensure we are capable of living within our proposed carbon budgets during the period to 2022, and that we can achieve our target to cut UK greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent. by 2050. We aim to publish a finalised strategy by the end of the year.

In the meantime, our existing package of policies, including the carbon emissions reduction target (CERT); the Warm Front scheme; and the Decent Homes programme, is continuing to roll-out insulation measures
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to GB homes. We estimate that well over 1 million homes have been insulated in the last 12 months under these schemes.

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