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Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Elite Sports Funding Review chaired by Dr Cunningham made over 50 recommendations, the large majority of which are for the Sports Councils and national governing bodies of sport to take forward. The review was discussed at the Sports Cabinet on 31 October 2001, chaired by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The Cabinet brings together the Sports Ministers and Chairmen of the Sports Councils from each of the devolved administrations. At the cabinet, the Sports Councils accepted and are now implementing the overwhelming majority of the recommendations.

Following the recent spending review, a ring-fenced allocation of £4.7 million for 2004–05 and 2005–06 has been provided to UK Sport to enable it to take forward some of the outstanding recommendations that involved an increase in expenditure. Some of the recommendations relate to the World Class Plans and cannot be implemented until the current four-year plans have been completed. The department will continue to work with UK Sports, the devolved administrations and Sport England to ensure that implementation of the recommendations is effective and continues to remain relevant to the changing environment of high performance sport.

The Government did not commit to provide an additional £10 million of Exchequer funding to elite athletes. The Government are committed to fund elite athletes at the same level in the four-year cycle to the Athens Olympics as in the four-year cycle leading to Sydney.

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Following the success of Team GB at the Sydney Olympics the Sports Cabinet agreed that funding should remain at the same level in the four-year cycle leading up to Athens as it had been in the four-year cycle leading up to Sydney. In the four-year cycle leading up to the Sydney Games £100 million had been spent to support elite UK athletes.

There is no change to this commitment.

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government remain committed to providing funding to UK elite athletes at the same level in the four-year cycle leading up to Athens as it had been in the four-year cycle leading up to Sydney.

Executive Agencies: Targets

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the report from the Office of Public Services Reform entitled Better Government Services—Executive agencies in the 21st Century, what steps they will take to correct the situation, summarised in section 28 on page 13, that targets are too many and unprioritised and rewards and penalties bear no relation to performance.[HL4391]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Following the Better Government Services report, HM Treasury is in the process of finalising new guidance for government officials involved in the agency target-setting process.

Electoral Arrangements: Pilots

Lord Gordon of Strathblane asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for future electoral pilots.[HL4549]

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): The Government have today introduced a Bill to allow piloting of innovative voting methods at next year's European Parliamentary elections. The European Parliamentary and Local Elections (Pilots) Bill also provides for pilots at local elections where these are combined with and take place on the same day as elections for the European Parliament.

This legislation demonstrates the Government's commitment to their goal of making voting easier and more convenient and represents a marked scaling up from previous pilots. The Bill is needed as current legislation does not allow for piloting at European parliamentary elections and the Government are keen to maintain the momentum gained through previous successful pilot schemes. Such schemes have included both all-postal ballots and multi-channelled e-voting and, at this year's local elections, were conducted in 61 local authorities covering 6.4 million eligible voters.

Decisions on which regions should be chosen for next year's pilots and which methods should be used in those regions will be informed by advice from the Electoral Commission. The Department for Constitutional Affairs and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister are today jointly writing to the commission with guidance on this issue. The commission—an independent body funded by Parliament—will consult with stakeholders and report back later in the year.

Alongside this legislation, the Government have also today launched a consultation on implementation

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of next year's pilot schemes. This consultation, to be conducted by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, will outline our plans for the pilots and seek comments from local authorities and other interested parties on our proposals.

Our proposals have been developed in the light of the Electoral Commission's strategic evaluation of the pilots held at the local elections earlier this year. Its report, The Shape of Elections to Come, made a number of recommendations, which the Government have considered very carefully, and we have published today our formal response.

One of the main recommendations made by the commission was that all-postal voting should be made the normal method of voting at local elections. We welcome that recommendation, but we recognise that it would involve a major change to our traditional electoral arrangements. Therefore, the Government intend to launch a public consultation on the detail of that recommendation later this year.

NHS Pension Scheme: Valuation Report 1994–99

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the National Health Service Pension Scheme—Valuation Report 1994 to 1999.[HL4548]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): We have now received and accepted the report of the Government Actuary on his investigation of the National Health Service Pension Scheme in England and Wales for the period 1 April 1994 to 31 March 1999. The report confirms that the rate of employer contributions should be 14 per cent from 1 April 2003.

Copies of the report have been placed in the Library.

Swimming: Schools Strategy

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether one in six pupils leaving primary school is unable to swim 25 metres, despite the legal requirement to include swimming at key stage 2 in both England and Wales; and[HL4376]

    Whether it is the case that 20 per cent of United Kingdom state schools charge for swimming; and[HL4377]

    Whether they are satisfied with the level of basic water safety technique training in schools; and water programmes they have in place to improve swimming standards in schools.[HL4378]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): Our Physical Education, School Sport and Club Links strategy, being implemented jointly with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, provides targeted support to enhance school

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swimming. A recent survey carried out jointly by the Times Educational Supplement and the Central Council for Physical Recreation found that 84 per cent, or five in six pupils are able to safely swim, at least, 25 metres by the end of key stage 2. This is a modest improvement on the position reported to us by Ofsted in 2000—when 80 per cent, or four in five pupils in England, achieved this target.

In its report, Ofsted noted that only in a minority of schools was water safety and survival not covered sufficiently well. The quality of teaching was good or better in four out of five lessons and in one-third of lessons, teaching was very good. Swimming is a vital personal and social skill, and an essential part of the PE national curriculum programme of study. Our swimming strategy is taking forward all of the key recommendations made by the Swimming Advisory Group. We have:

    created a new swimming and water safety website which provides practical support for schools and swimming teachers;

    carried out a pilot programme which tests out how best to support those children who reach the end of key stage 2 and are not able to swim 25 metres. Over 1,000 pupils have benefited from the scheme; and

    plans to publish a swimming charter before Christmas. This will set out guidelines, share best practice and provide the practical support to help schools overcome many of the challenges they face when planning and delivering swimming.

Furthermore, as part of its wider provision, the PE and School Sport National Professional Development Programme will help to improve the quality of swimming teaching throughout England. The programme will identify where there is most need and provide specific professional development and support to help ensure high quality swimming tuition in schools.

No charge can be made for the cost of providing swimming lessons that take place wholly or mainly during school hours, or for the cost of transport to carry pupils to and from the lesson. Similarly, no charge can be made for lessons, or transport, that take place outside of school hours where the lesson is part of the national curriculum. Schools can ask for voluntary contributions to cover the cost of swimming activities, but when requesting the contribution it must make it clear that no child will be treated differently, or left out of the activity, because their parent is unable or unwilling to make the contribution. The department does not collect data on the percentage of maintained schools that request financial contributions towards swimming provision.

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