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17 Jun 1997 : Column WA105

Written Answers

Tuesday, 17th June 1997.

Aid Spending

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the United Kingdom's current aid spending compares with the United Nations target.

Lord Whitty: Provisional figures for 1996 show that the UK's performance against the UN 0.7 per cent. official development assistance/GNP target was 0.27 per cent. This compares to a level of 0.51 per cent. in 1979. We are firmly committed to reversing the decline against the UN target. However, as promised during the election, we will work within existing departmental resource allocations for the next two years.

Security Council: UK Seat

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there are any circumstances under which they can envisage giving up Britain's permanent seat on the Security Council of the United Nations.

Lord Whitty: No. Her Majesty's Government are committed to retaining Britain's permanent seat on the Security Council.

Task Force on Youth Justice

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for a Task Force on Youth Justice.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The role of the Task Force on Youth Justice is to advise Home Office Ministers on government proposals for the development of youth justice policies and, in particular, to provide advice on taking forward an action plan as agreed by the interdepartmental ministerial group on Youth Justice.

The Task Force may provide advice to the Home Secretary on policy papers prepared by government officials for consideration by the ministerial group and may propose to the Home Secretary action on any other youth justice issue.

The members of the task force are:

    Norman Warner

    Senior Policy Adviser, Home Office (Chairman)

    William Atkinson

    Headmaster, Phoenix High School, Shepherd's Bush

    Jonathan Black

    Magistrates' clerk, Hampshire

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    Catherine Bowker

    Youth Court Prosecutor, Brighton

    Tony Butler

    Chief Constable, Gloucestershire

    Paul Cavadino

    Penal Affairs Consortium

    Anne Fuller

    Lay magistrate, Inner London

    Cedric Fullwood

    Chief Probation Officer, Manchester

    Ian Johnston

    Assitant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police

    David Norgrove

    Marks and Spencer plc

    Denise Platt

    Local Government Association

    Teresa Reynolds

    Victim Support

    Joan Webster

    Chief Superintendent, Gwent

    Geoffrey Wicks

    Stipendiary magistrate, Inner London

    Andrew Williamson

    Director of Social Services, Devon

    John Lyon

    Home Office

    Tom Luce

    Department of Health

    Jenny Rowe

    Lord Chancellor's Department

Wrongful Conviction: Ex-Gratia Compensation

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will continue to apply the provisions announced in 1985 for ex-gratia payment of compensation for wrongful conviction or charge.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary can confirm that he will continue to be bound by the provisions for ex-gratia payment of compensation as set out in the statement of the then Home Secretary, the right honourable Douglas Hurd, to the House of Commons on 29 November 1985, Official Report, cols. 691-692. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has also agreed to continue to apply these provisions.

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Lottery Odds

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they agree that, as a general principle, participants in games of chance that are widely advertised to the public should be made aware by the promoter of either the average return to participants (the total distributed as prize money divided by the total money wagered), or the chance of winning a specified prize, or both.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Yes. This is a statutory requirement for the larger lotteries, and I agree that smaller lotteries should follow the same principle.

Common Agricultural Policy

Lord Moran asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they share the view of the common agricultural policy expressed on behalf of the previous government by Earl Ferrers on 21 November 1995 (H.L. Deb., col. 259) that it "is, at present, too costly, too inefficient and too wasteful. It can disadvantage the consumer and the food industry and it often provides incentives for production without paying proper regard to environmental considerations".

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): It is generally accepted that the CAP displays the characteristics referred to in the question. That is why the Government have made reform of the CAP a major plank of their European policy. We will be pursuing this vigorously with our European partners.

No. 10 Downing Street: Charitable Events

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On how many occasions between 9 April 1992 and 2 May 1997 facilities were provided at Number 10 Downing Street for charitable and other non-political good causes.

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard): I cannot answer for the previous administration's use of Number 10 for charitable and other non-political good causes.

However, Ministers under this and previous administrations have been allowed--at their own or party expense--to host non-official or party receptions in Downing Street. All catering, staff and other direct costs must be met by the organisers of the event. Appropriate arrangements are required for security clearance.

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Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have a specific target rate of unemployment for the United Kingdom according to the International Labour Organisation definitions.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): No. The Government's aim is a high and stable level of employment, to be achieved by running a successful, low-inflation economy, with macro-economic stability as a platform for sustainable growth, and, by enhancing skills and improving the operation of the labour market, to open up job opportunities to all groups in society.

A-Levels: Costs per Student

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their best estimates of the average annual cost of schooling for an individual student taking three A-levels at (a) an English state secondary school and (b) an English state sixth form college; and

    What is the average amount paid to (a) council-run secondary schools, (b) grant maintained schools, (c) sixth form colleges by the relevant funding bodies in respect of a student taking three A-levels.

Baroness Blackstone: In The Public Funding Costs of Education and Training for 16-19 year olds in England 1995-96 the department published estimates of the average cost of achieving three GCE A-levels, which is higher than the average cost of taking three GCE A-levels, since not everyone succeeds. These are: (a) £6,970 at an English local authority/voluntary aided school; (b) £7,010 at an English grant maintained school; (c) £6,640 at an English state sixth form college. These figures relate to the public funding cost and thus take no account of any cross-subsidisation within institutions or other sources of funding. Data constraints leave the figures here subject to a margin of error and so the costs can be considered broadly similar.

Teacher Training

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measures they will use to judge whether they have kept the promise in the Labour Party manifesto that they "will improve teacher training".

Baroness Blackstone: We shall be setting out in our forthcoming White Paper proposals to improve the preparation of new teachers and training for serving teachers and the standards by which the profession will be measured.

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Literacy Targets

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will restate their commitment to the Labour Party manifesto target that "within a decade every child leaves primary school with a reading age of at least 11".

Baroness Blackstone: Yes. The Government announced on 13 May new targets for literacy, namely that by 2002, 80 per cent. of all 11 year-olds should reach the appropriate reading standard for their age; and that by 2006 practically every 11 year-old should reach this level.

Assisted Places Scheme

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether their statement that "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" implies that LEAs and schools will receive no significant additional funding in respect of such pupils.

Baroness Blackstone: By how much pupil numbers in maintained schools will increase as a result of phasing out the assisted places scheme is not yet clear. But, with over 800,000 empty places within existing LEA provision, there is ample scope available to accommodate the 10,000 or so pupils who would otherwise have entered the scheme each year and who represent only about one-eighth of 1 per cent. of the total school population. The costs to the maintained sector of educating children who would otherwise have held assisted places will be one of the many factors taken into account in local authority settlements for 1998-99 and beyond.

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