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18 Feb 1998 : Column WA41

Written Answers

Wednesday, 18th February 1998.

Video Recordings: Designated Authority

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will make changes to the authority responsible for making arrangements for the classification of video works under the Video Recordings Act 1984.[HL695]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has today designated Mr. Andreas Whittam Smith under Section 4(4) of the Video Recordings Act 1984. Mr. Whittam Smith was appointed as President of the British Board of Film Classification on 1 January 1998, and my right honourable friend has designated him, in that capacity, to replace the Earl of Harewood and Lord Birkett of Ulverston.

Copies of the Notice of Designation and the text of a letter my right honourable friend has sent to Mr. Whittam Smith confirming the designation have been placed in the Library.

Deaths in Custody: Coroners' Procedures

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have received any criticisms concerning the handling by coroners of recent cases of deaths in custody; and whether they consider that any changes are needed in the procedures and methods of coroners.[HL544]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Criticisms regarding inquests into deaths in custody are received from time to time. There are no current plans to amend coroner legislation in relation to the need to sum up evidence and give directions to a jury, but we are considering the recent recommendation from the Home Affairs Select Committee regarding the disclosure of relevant information in advance of such inquests.

Mentally Disordered Offenders

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have studied the report by the Penal Affairs Consortium entitled An Unsuitable Place for Treatment; and to what extent they endorse its conclusions and recommendations, particularly that "there is a powerful case for ensuring that effective psychiatric assessment services are in place in every police and court area".[HL553]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government fully share the conclusions of the report that mentally disordered people who commit offences should have

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ready access to treatment and care, and that they should not be imprisoned unnecessarily. Effective inter-agency arrangements around the country are essential if the needs of mentally disordered offenders are to be addressed appropriately. The Home Office and the Department of Health are working together to encourage local agencies and services to develop the most suitable arrangements in the light of local circumstances.

Scotland: Musical Education in State Schools

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy on the teaching of music in state schools in Scotland.[HL541]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): The curriculum in Scottish state schools is not prescribed by statute but guidelines on the content of the curriculum are issued by the Secretary of State. Guidelines on the expressive arts, for pupils between the ages of 5-14, include music, and music is also available at Standard Grade and Higher Grade. A wide range of music options will also be available under the new Higher Still arrangements.

Scotland: Council Tax Payers

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is, for each local authority in Scotland:
    (a) the number of electors;
    (b) the number of council tax payers;
    (c) the number of council tax payers on full rebate;
    (d) the number of council tax payers on partial rebate;
    (e) the percentage of the electorate paying a full council tax.[HL595]

Lord Sewel: The available information is shown below:

(a) Number of Electors in each Local Authority (1997)

Aberdeen City172,066
Argyll & Bute69,971
Dumfries & Galloway116,828
Dundee City117,166
East Ayrshire94,368
East Dunbartonshire84,978
East Lothian69,870
East Renfrewshire67,597
Edinburgh City362,788
Eilean Siar23,315
Glasgow City476,784
North Ayrshire106,478
North Lanarkshire246,599
Perth & Kinross104,464
Scottish Borders86,051
South Ayrshire90,787
South Lanarkshire236,038
West Dunbartonshire72,611
West Lothian115,326


General Register Office (Scotland), Estimate 1997.

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(b) Number of Chargeable Dwellings in each
Local Authority (1997)

Aberdeen City95,967
Argyll & Bute41,582
Dumfries & Galloway64,668
Dundee City67,528
East Ayrshire50,513
East Dunbartonshire41,988
East Lothian37,528
East Renfrewshire34,197
Edinburgh City197,334
Eilean Siar12,370
Glasgow City263,236
North Ayrshire59,558
North Lanarkshire130,206
Perth & Kinross58,565
Scottish Borders47,741
South Ayrshire48,774
South Lanarkshire123,879
West Dunbartonshire42,213
West Lothian60,764


Statistical Return--Council Tax Base, October 1997.

(c) The Department of Social Security estimates that in May 1996 there were 365,000 people in Scotland receiving a rebate equal to the full amount of council tax;

(d) The Department of Social Security estimates that in May 1996 there were 209,000 people in Scotland receiving a rebate less than the full amount of council tax;

Information is not held centrally on numbers receiving full and partial rebates for each local authority area in Scotland.

(e) No information is held centrally on the number of people who pay council tax. It is therefore not possible to provide estimates of the percentage of the electorate paying council tax in full or part.

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Scottish Local Elections: Turnout

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was, for each local authority in Scotland, the turnout at the last local government election.[HL596]

Lord Sewel: The information is set out in the table below. The figures relate to the elections held in 1995 except in relation to the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands and Western Isles Areas, where the last elections were held in 1994.

AuthorityVotes CastPercentage Turnout
Aberdeen City64,42538.0
Argyll & Bute30,33751.2
Dumfries & Galloway39,29650.2
Dundee City50,25243.8
East Ayrshire50,20653.2
East Dunbartonshire43,85152.8
East Lothian33,28848.4
East Renfrewshire32,53949.2
Edinburgh, City of156,19544.5
Glasgow, City of183,66938.9
North Ayrshire46,71849.4
North Lanarkshire115,20848.1
Orkney Islands3,73560.9
Perth & Kinross52,06451.3
Scottish Borders27,12140.3
Shetland Islands3,68058.1
South Ayrshire49,41155.5
South Lanarkshire107,90346.8
West Dunbartonshire36,06549.7
West Lothian52,15646.7
Western Isles7,21162.1

Teaching: Improving Standards

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they intend to take in the light of the observations of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools, contained in his fourth report, published on 3 February 1998, concerning:
    (a) the 13,000 teachers staffing classrooms who are incompetent; and
    (b) the one in eight lessons which are less than satisfactory.[HL602]

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The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): In his annual report for 1996-97, HM Chief Inspector of Schools in England did not focus on the issue of teacher incompetence. He emphasised that more teachers were teaching more effectively.

In the Excellence in schools White Paper, the Government confirmed their view that good teaching is the key to high standards. The Government have introduced rigorous new standards for the award of Qualified Teacher Status, which all trainees will be required to meet from May in order to gain entry to the profession. We recognise the importance of investment in in-service training for teachers in order to raise standards and have increased funding significantly. We recently announced plans to improve the arrangements for teacher appraisal by linking it more closely to raising standards of pupil achievement.

These measures, combined with the many other aspects of the Government's drive to raise school standards, should ensure that in future even more teachers will be teaching more effectively.

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