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5 Jun 1997 : Column WA45

Written Answers

Thursday, 5th June 1997.

British Academy of Sport

Lord Brabazon of Tara asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any proposals for a British academy of sport.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: We recently confirmed our commitment to the development of a British academy of sport. The academy will be a key element in the national strategy for sporting excellence and in helping lift Britain back into the top 10 sporting nations.

The academy will have top quality training facilities and services such as sports medicine, sports science, research, talent identification and the settling of standards. It will also co-ordinate and direct a network of centres of sporting excellence which will be accessible across Britain. It will also fully incorporate services for disabled athletes.

My honourable friend the Minister for Sport is currently considering the three short-listed bids and will then decide how to proceed.

Millennium Exhibition Project: Funding

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the dates, amounts and uses of commitments made by the Millennium Fund to the Greenwich Millennium project, and what are the sources and amounts of matching funds so far committed.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Millennium Commission agreed in principle on 21 January 1997 to pay grant of £200 million to Millennium Central Limited (the Millennium Exhibition operating company) for the purposes of developing, building and operating the National Millennium Exhibition at Greenwich. The Commission also agreed on that date to consider a future application from Millennium Central for additional grant to cover inflation and contingencies, subject to an order being made under the National Lottery etc. Act 1993 to extend the period over which the Commission receives funds from the National Lottery beyond 31 December 2000. On 27 March 1997, the Commission contracted to pay Millennium Central an interim grant of up to £24.5 million to enable the company to establish its organisation and develop detailed plans. Prior to that, the Commission incurred expenditure of £10.9 million in determining the application for the Greenwich Exhibition. In addition to the Millennium Commission's grant, the costs of the Millennium Exhibition will be met through private sector sponsorship and commercial revenue. A target of £150 million has been set for sponsorship income. Public indications of support have been made by British

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Telecom, British Airways, BAA, BAe, GEC, the Corporation of London and others. No agreements can be negotiated in detail in advance of the outcome of the Government's review of the exhibition.

BSE: Herd History

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    With reference to the remarks of Lord Hooson on 20 May 1997 (HL Deb., col. 324), why they have considered it appropriate to deny the House information relating to BSE which was formerly available; and what other such information which was formerly available is now not.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): The policy not to release information on the BSE history of individual herds was introduced in October 1996. We are currently reviewing this policy in line with our commitment to be more open than the previous government.

Integrated Transport Policy

Baroness Nicol asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they intend to take forward their commitment to develop an integrated transport policy to fight congestion and pollution.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for the Environment and Transport (Baroness Hayman): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions has today launched a fundamental review of transport policy to provide an integrated transport system which meets the environmental and transport needs of all regions of the country for today and the future. The review will look at both the short term and the longer term actions that are necessary to deliver an integrated system.

The review will encompass the key areas of transport and examine transport's relationship with the economy in general and with the many environmental issues which surround it. The review will be overseen by a ministerial team drawn from both the Transport and the Environment Departments and chaired by my right honourable friend the Minister for Transport. My right honourable friends are determined that this review will be conducted in an open and consultative way which will provide opportunity for those with an interest in transport to input their views to the process, and wherever possible, become directly involved in the development of policy.

Our aim is to publish a long-term strategy White Paper next spring which will provide a sustainable framework for decision-making during the remainder of this Parliament, the next and the years beyond that. Critically, it will set interim objectives for the remainder of this Parliament against which to judge our progress. Publication of the White Paper will mark the completion of the initial analytical, goal-setting and consultation phase in the development of an integrated transport

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policy. But there will then be a rolling programme of action, involving both central and local government, transport operators and others across all regions to make that policy a reality.

Assisted Places Scheme

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much, in each of the next five years, they estimate (a) would have been spent under the assisted places scheme had the previous government's plans been followed; (b) will be spent under the assisted places scheme; and (c) will be disbursed by local education authorities to schools to cover the additional costs which they will incur in educating children who would, under the previous government's plans, have received assisted places, but now will not.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The previous published expenditure plans for the assisted places schemes in England, Scotland and Wales together for the years 1997-98, 1998-99 and 1999-2000 were £159 million, £181 million and £202 million respectively. The Government's spending plans for 1998-99 onwards will be announced in due course and will take account of the savings progressively released from phasing out the schemes. There will be no significant additional burden on local education authorities from educating children who would otherwise have entered the assisted places schemes each year.

Education Policy

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measure they intend to use of the skills of the teaching profession in order to judge whether the promise in the Labour Party manifesto that "We will achieve this by improving the skills of the teaching force" has been kept; and what the value of that measure is at present.

Baroness Blackstone: The Government intend to improve the skills of the teaching profession in order to raise standards of pupil performance. We shall be setting out in our White Paper, next month, proposals to raise the quality of teaching and how the skills of the profession will be measured.

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measure of the quality of teachers and head teachers they intend to use to judge whether the promise in the Labour Party manifesto that education action zones will attack low standards by "recruiting the best teachers and head teachers to under-achieving schools" has been kept.

Baroness Blackstone: We will announce in the forthcoming White Paper our proposals for improving under-achieving schools, through education action zones and through other mechanisms.

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Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, with reference to the words "our new target that within a decade every child leaves primary school with a reading age of at least 11" in the Labour Party manifesto, the word "child" encompasses children with severe or moderate learning difficulties; if so, how this target is to be achieved; or if not, what definition of "child" will be used in judging the progress achieved towards the Government's target, and what word the Government wishes to be used to describe those whom it considers not to be "children".

Baroness Blackstone: The Government announced on 13 May targets that, by the time of the national tests in 2002, will have 75 per cent. of 11 year-olds reaching the standards expected for their age in mathematics, and 80 per cent. of 11 year-olds reaching the standards expected for their age in English. These targets relate to the total 11 year-old population, including those assessed as having special educational needs. We anticipate that many children with special educational needs will achieve the standards expected for their age; the Government will be seeking to raise standards for all children, including the most severely disabled.

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they condone the practice followed by some primary schools of giving preference on entry to 5 year-olds who have attended that school's reception class.

Baroness Blackstone: Admission authorities may use any legal criteria to decide which children will be admitted to a reception class when the number of eligible applicants exceeds the number of places available. These may give priority for admission to children who attended the school's nursery class. Children in reception classes, however, will normally transfer automatically to the following year group.

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