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English Local Government: Discussion Papers

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: We have published today the first in a series of papers inviting discussion on proposals to modernise English local government. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

This first paper--on local democracy and community leadership--sets out proposals for modernising local electoral arrangements, for developing new ways in which councils can listen to their local communities and involve them in their decisions, for devising new ways in which councils can work, and for strengthening councils' roles as leaders of their local communities.

Other papers in the series will cover our proposals for best value in service delivery, a new ethical framework for local government, and aspects of the local government finance system. Following what we hope will be a wide public debate, we will set out our firm proposals in a White Paper. Our aim is a re-invigorated local government playing its full part as a partner with central government in laying the foundations for stable economic growth and improving the quality of people's lives.

Rendered Condensate on Farmland: Safety

The Earl of Shrewsbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

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    which is grazed by farm animals is completely safe; and

    (b) that there is no danger to the health of humans who come into contact with such condensate.[HL287]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): A small number of rendering plants spread condensate on farmland. In response to concerns about the practice, the Environment Agency commissioned a risk assessment report by independent technical consultants about the safety of condensate spread from a plant.

The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee has reviewed the risk assessment and concluded that the risk to human health from this practice was negligible. The committee noted that additional analyses of the possible protein content of condensate are being undertaken and asked to see the results of these before reaching a conclusion on the safety of this practice with regard to grazing animals.

BSE: Inquiry Remit

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ask Lord Justice Phillips to review, at an early stage in the course of his inquiry into the BSE epidemic, whether any further measures need to be taken to reduce the risks of a prolongation of that epidemic.[HL372]

Lord Donoughue: No. Her Majesty's Government do not intend to alter the scope of Lord Justice Phillips' Inquiry, which has been asked to focus on the action taken in response to the emergence of BSE and nvCJD up to 20 March 1996.

Sugar Beet Research and Education Committee

Lord Gladwin of Clee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the future of the Sugar Beet Research and Education Committee.[HL 358]

Lord Donoughue: The Sugar Beet Research and Education Committee (SBREC) has been the subject of a non-departmental public body prior options review. Departments are asked to look at the functions the body carries out; to assess whether they are still needed; and to decide whether the current arrangements provide the best way of carrying them out.

The SBREC has carried out its functions well, and we are very grateful to its past and present chairman and members, who have given valuable service to the industry over the years. Although the committee has no statutory basis, its work is linked to certain statutory arrangements which date back to 1938 and require the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to be closely involved with the research programme. My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries

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and Food believes there is no need for the Government to be so closely involved in these arrangements, but that there is a case for industry-funded research and education to continue, and that it would be more appropriate, if the industry agrees, for these to be under the aegis of a development council for sugar beet. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is therefore consulting interested parties on a proposal to establish such a council to take on the functions currently undertaken by the SBREC.

In deciding whether to establish a development council, Ministers have to follow the procedures in the Industrial Organisation and Development Act 1947. In particular, they need to be satisfied that its establishment is desired by a substantial number of persons engaged in the industry.

European Union: Educational Material

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What programmes the European Union has in force, or in prospect, which may lead (a) schools or (b) other educational establishments in this country to disseminate information about the European Union; how much such programmes are estimated to cost over what period of time; and how they are paid for.[HL447]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Her Majesty's Government is unaware of any programmes with this objective. However, the European Commission may disseminate information about the EU on its own initiative and has in the past published materials intended for use in schools and other educational institutions. It would be for individual institutions to decide whether to make materials of this sort available to learners. The resources for such activities are drawn from the Commission's administrative appropriations specified annually in the general budget of the European Union.

Independent School Pupils Supported by Central Government Funding

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House a schedule setting out the number of pupils in each independent school, at the latest conveniently available date, who are supported by:

    (a) the assisted places scheme;

    (b) the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (and related departments, agencies etc.);

    (c) the Ministry of Defence (and related departments, agencies, etc.); and

    (d) any other publicly funded scheme.[HL400]

Baroness Blackstone: A schedule, drawn from currently available records of the number of pupils

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supported by central government funding at independent schools in the United Kingdom through the schemes specified, has been placed in the Library.

GCSE: Analysis of Results 1994-97

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish data for England showing for comprehensive schools, modern schools, grammar schools, all state schools, independent schools and all schools separately, the percentage of

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    all 16 year-old pupils in each of the years 1994 to 1997 passing GCSE examinations with Grades A* to C in the following subjects: mathematics, English, English literature, sciences (showing separately percentages for single award science, double award science, physics, chemistry and biology), French, history and geography, showing data separately for boys, girls and all pupils and including, for each category of school, the number of schools and the number of 16 year-old pupils.[HL375]

Baroness Blackstone: The information requested in respect of GCSE achievements is shown in the following table.

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GCSE achievements of 15 year-old pupils in schools

1993-94 1994-95 1995-96 1996-97
Comprehensive schools
Number of 15 year-olds223.7217.1440.6242.9235.6478.6249.9243.7493.6246.4240.6486.9
Number of schools2,8552,8492,8502,841
Percentage achieving grades A*-C in
English literature345143365445365445365445
Any science383838393939404040404141
Single award science222222222122
Double award science353435363536363636373737
Selective schools
Number of 15 year-olds8.08.616.69.29.919.19.510.119.710.010.520.5
Number of schools159164164168
Percentage achieving grades A*-C in
English literature879491879591869490889591
Any science919191919291919191929292
Single award science746434523322
Double award science477360507463507160537263
Modern schools
Number of 15 year-olds9.69.919.510.610.521.110.310.520.810.310.420.7
Number of schools167163156160
Percentage achieving grades A*-C in
English literature203830244233244233254535
Any science242424282627292828292929
Single award science354354465444
Double award science211920252123252223252425
Maintained Schools
Number of 15 year-olds248239486271260531279269547276266542
Number of schools4,1684,2994,2924,303
Percentage achieving grades A*-C in
English literature345243365445365445375546
Any science383838394040404141404241
Single award science232222222222
Double award science343434353635353736353736
Independent Schools
Number of 15 year-olds24.621.546.125.322.247.524.622.246.823.621.345.0
Number of schools1,0601,0621,0611,053
Percentage achieving grades A*-C in
English literature707974708075708075708075
Any science747675777978767977767978
Single award science354354354344
Double award science173023264032274033284235
All schools
Number of 15 year-olds272.1260.1532.3296.2282.0578.2303.3290.7594.0299.5287.2586.7
Number of schools5,2285,3615,3535,356
Percentage achieving grades A*-C in
English literature385446395647395648395748
Any science424242424343434444434444
Single award science232232232222
Double award science323433343635343736353836

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