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Grant-maintained Schools: Financial Self-management

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Blackstone: The consultation paper Fair Funding: Improving Delegation to Schools, issued on 29 May 1998, proposes a new 100 per cent. delegation framework for the funding of schools by local education authorities (LEAs) in England, based on a clear distinction between functions which must be seen as the responsibility of the LEA itself, and those which should be seen as the responsibility of the schools. While recognising that LEAs will need to retain the necessary resources to carry out their essential functions, the proposals seek to maximise the level of self- management for all maintained schools. The final division of responsibilities and associated funding within the new framework will be informed by the outcome of the consultation.

Grammar School Ballots: Constituencies

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Blackstone: The proposed ballot arrangements for these schools are set out in the draft grammar school ballot regulations issued for consultation on 3 June, a copy of which was placed in the House Library.

Children of Service Personnel: SEN Provision

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What provision is made for the Special Education Needs of children accompanying service personnel serving outside the United Kingdom.[HL2135]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): Service Children's Education, SCE, an MoD agency, is responsible for the provision of education services overseas for the children of Service personnel serving outside the United Kingdom. SCE schools follow the DfEE Code of Practice on the identification and assessment of Special Educational Needs, SEN, and children with such needs are supported in mainstream classes or in Special Education Units in Germany or Cyprus. Although provision can be made for the majority of children, SCE does not maintain any special schools and cannot therefore match the full range of SEN provision available in the UK. Where necessary, the Services will arrange postings to avoid parents whose child has special needs being sent to an area where those needs cannot be met.

Gulf War Personnel: Biological Samples

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make available to independent researchers biological samples taken from members of the Armed Forces prior to, during and after Operation Granby.[HL1822]

Lord Gilbert: The Defence Medical Services regularly take biological samples from members of the Armed Forces as part of normal healthcare procedures. These are mainly required for diagnostic purposes and are retained for varying lengths of time. There is no central record of samples taken in this way. Such samples could not be used for research purposes without clearance having been obtained from the appropriate

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ethics committee and prior consent from the patients involved.

The remains of a number of blood samples which were collected from UK Service personnel during the Gulf conflict at various stages of the anti-biological warfare agent vaccination programme are currently stored at CBD, Porton Down. These samples were analysed at the time with the aim of investigating the level of protection conferred by giving anthrax vaccine in combination with pertussis vaccine. The results of the study were given in a paper "Operation GRANBY: The effect of co-administration of the pertussis vaccine on specific antibody titre development to the anthrax vaccine in man" which was declassified and made publicly available on 28 October 1997.

The process of cataloguing what remains of these samples has now been completed. Of the 263 samples which we believe to have been taken for this purpose, the remains of 224 are still preserved. One hundred and sixty-seven individuals have been positively identified as the source of 192 of these samples. A further 30-32 individuals whom we believe to be the source of the other 32 samples have yet to be positively identified. Varying amounts of information regarding sampling dates and vaccination history, including batch numbers in some instances, have also been preserved in respect of some of these samples. However, it is highly unlikely that MoD will be able to obtain further verification of any of this information.

The samples clearly constitute a unique resource. Any proposals for testing them will need to be properly peer-reviewed and to obtain appropriate ethical clearances. Where the identity of the individual from whom the sample was taken is known, this process would also necessarily involve obtaining their permission for testing to proceed.

The quantity of serum remaining from each of these samples varies between 4.5ml and trace levels; however, it is estimated that the majority of samples contain sufficient serum for a small number of tests to be carried out, although this would very much depend upon the tests to be performed and the laboratory procedures used.

MoD is writing to Gulf veterans' representatives, including their solicitors, seeking views on a way ahead regarding the possible testing of the remains of the blood samples.

Northern Ireland: Role of JPs

Lord Eames asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of changing circumstances in Northern Ireland, they will consider increasing the responsibilities of justices of the peace in order to ease the strain on other departments of the judicial system.[HL2069]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): The review of criminal justice referred to in the Agreement reached in the multi-party negotiations will provide an opportunity

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to consider the role and responsibilities of justices of the peace in Northern Ireland. The review will commence as soon as possible, and will report to the Government no later than autumn 1999.

Scotland: Education Expenditure

Lord Selkirk of Douglas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Sewel on 21 May (WA 198) on education expenditure in Scotland over the last 20 years, for the 18 years from 1979-80 to 1996-97 inclusive what was the average (a) expenditure at 1998-99 prices; (b) year-on-year increase; (c) year-on-year percentage cash increase; (d) year-on-year percentage real-terms increase.[HL2125]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): The additional information is as follows:

    (a) Average expenditure at 1998-99 prices: £3,665.7 million;

    (b) Average year-on-year increase at 1998-99 prices: £51.4 million;

    (c) Average year-on-year percentage cash increase; 7.5 per cent;

    (d) Average year-on-year percentage real-terms increase: 1.5 per cent.

Scotland: Secretary of State's Special Advisers

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who are the Special Advisers to the Secretary of State for Scotland: and what are their salaries and other emoluments.[HL2117]

Lord Sewel: The Special Advisers to the Secretary of State for Scotland are Ms Wendy Alexander, Mr. Murray Elder and Mr. David Whitton. All Special Advisers are paid within a salary band which currently ranges from £24,349 to £73,484. Their salaries are negotiated individually and are confidential. Details are not revealed in order to protect the privacy of the individuals concerned.

Scotland: Roads Programme Review

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they hope to announce the conclusions of their review of the roads programme in Scotland.[HL2146]

Lord Sewel: We intend to issue a consultation document on a revised appraisal framework for prioritising investment decisions on the trunk road

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network shortly after the publication of the Scottish Integrated Transport White Paper. The review will be completed later this year, once responses to the consultation document have been considered.

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to announce their decision on the line of route for the proposed M.80 extension between Stepps and Haggs.[HL2147]

Lord Sewel: Proposals to improve the M.80 between Stepps and Haggs are subject to the strategic review of trunk roads, which is due for completion later this year. No decision on the preferred line for the route will be taken until the conclusions of the review are known.

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