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The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard): An independent Security Vetting Appeals Panel, chaired by Sir Anthony May, will be established on 1 July to hear appeals against refusals or withdrawal of clearance at Security Check (SC) or Developed Vetting (DV) levels and to advise the head of the organisation concerned. The panel will be available to all those, other than recruits, in the public and private sectors and in the Armed Forces who are subject to security vetting at these levels, have exhausted existing appeals mechanisms within their own organisations and remain dissatisfied with the result. Separate arrangements are available to staff of the security and intelligence agencies. The establishment of the panel therefore brings to an end the role of the Three Advisers, who, since 1948, have been available to consider cases where security clearance was refused or withdrawn on the grounds of subversion.
The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Most religious education in non-denominational schools will continue to be provided in accordance with an agreed syllabus which shall "reflect the fact that religious traditions in Great Britain are in the main Christian whilst taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions in Great Britain" (Education Act 1996, Section 375 (3)).
Baroness Blackstone: Yes. The teaching of all subjects, including theology and religious studies, in publicly funded higher education institutions is subject to quality assessment by the Higher Education Funding Councils. The quality of initial teacher training is also subject to regular inspection by OFSTED. In addition, religious education is classed as a shortage secondary subject by the Teacher Training Agency and as such is included in the Priority Subject Recruitment Scheme. The scheme provides financial support to initial teacher training students on shortage subject courses of up to two years in length, and funds for initial teacher training providers to publicise their courses and make them more attractive to students.
Baroness Blackstone: The procedures for the establishment of new further education corporations are contained in the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. In normal circumstances I would expect establishment to follow consideration by the Secretary of State of a proposal from the Further Education Funding Council for England. No proposals are before him at present.
Baroness Blackstone: The maintenance of discipline on transport vehicles is linked to pupil safety. Interpretation of the law in any particular case is a matter for the courts, but it is generally considered that the safety of children on journeys to and from school is the responsibility of the operators of the vehicles in which they travel. Where transport is arranged but not operated by a local education authority, the authority
Baroness Blackstone: The total grant in aid to the Student Loans Company in financial year 1996-97 was £21.28 million. At 31 March 1997, 49 per cent. of graduates were deferring repayment of around £465 million and 9.3 per cent. of graduates owing some £10.8 million were in default or in arrears. Only 9.2 per cent. of students entering higher education are from social classes IV and V, compared with 53.7 per cent. from classes I and II.
Baroness Blackstone: Responsibility for the subject of this question has been delegated to the Employment Service Agency under its Chief Executive, Mr. L. Lewis. The agency has therefore been asked to respond to the question and its reply is attached for your information.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the completion of jobseeker's allowance forms. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of the agency.
The ES has no legal responsibility as such to help jobseekers to complete our forms. However, our guidance to all of our advisers recommends that someone should be available at all times to help people who are experiencing difficulty in this respect. In addition, jobseekers are asked to attend the Jobcentre at least thirty minutes before their first interview is scheduled to take place so that our advisers can help them with the completion of their forms if this is necessary.
It may help if I explain that, prior to the introduction of JSA, all ES advisers attended training courses to enable them to implement the new regulations. This training was reinforced by detailed procedural guidance which was issued to all Jobcentres in August 1996. Guidance on regulation 13(3) was issued to Jobcentres as part of the JSA Local Office Adjudication Guide. The guidance states that: "A person may restrict their availability in any way provided the restrictions are reasonable in the light of their physical or mental condition. For example, a person with emphysema could restrict the: (a) type of work to avoid working in smoke/fumes; (b) number of hours work in a week; (c) number of hours work in a shift.