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Lord Turnberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Warner: The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has a national mycology reference centre, at Bristol, and two HPA regional laboratories (at Manchester and Cardiff) which have a special interest and capabilities in mycology.

Most National Health Service pathology services have a microbiology laboratory which is able to test for fungal infections to meet local clinical demand.

4 Feb 2004 : Column WA107

School Session Times

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Department for Education and Skills Innovation Unit, in considering proposals from schools to introduce innovative changes in the school day, requires schools to consult parents before agreeing to such changes.[HL889]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The Department for Education and Skills' Innovation Unit currently handles applications made under the powers to facilitate innovation set out in the Education Act 2002. Such applications have included proposals from schools to introduce innovative changes in the school day.

The Education Act 2002, Section 4, requires that if the governing body of a qualifying school, maintained by a local education authority, wishes to make an application for an order under the "Power to Innovate", they must consult that local education authority and such persons as appear to them to be appropriate. In doing so they must have regard to any guidance given by the Secretary of State which sets out advice for applicants on the issue of consultation.

In any application that involved a change to the timings of the school day, which impacts on the parental body, the department is clear that direct consultation with parents must take place.

Information on the consultation an applicant has undertaken is made available to the School Standards Minister so he can decide on whether to grant an order.

School Swimming

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will (a) provide an update on the swimming review which is part of the Physical Education, School Sport and Club Links Strategy; and (b) detail the funding available to implement the review.[HL898]

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: The Swimming work strand within the national PE, School Sport and Club Links strategy, has taken forward all of the key recommendations made by the Swimming Advisory Group. An executive summary of the group's report and the Government's response was published on 17 October 2002 and a copy was placed in the House of Lords Library. We have:


    created (in October 2002) a new swimming and water safety website which provides practical support for schools and swimming teachers;


    carried out (during the summer term 2003) two pilot programmes to test out how best to support those children who reach the end of key stage 2 unable to swim 25 metres; an executive summary of this report was published on 21 January 2004; and


    published a Swimming Charter in December 2003. The charter offers guidance, best practice

4 Feb 2004 : Column WA108

    case studies and provides practical support to help schools and local authorities overcome many of the challenges they face when planning and delivering school swimming.

Furthermore, the national strategy's professional development work strand 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. The programme went live in 2003.

I refer the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, to the Answer I gave him on 8 January 2004, (Official Report, col. WA 57) which gives the names and budgets of the PE and school sports programmes run jointly by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education and Skills.

Stakeholder Pensions

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Treasury will announce its decision on whether to relax the 1 per cent management charge levy on stakeholder pensions.[HL945]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The Financial Services Authority is currently consumer testing the simplified sales process for the new stakeholder product suite. The Government will decide on the level of the charge cap for the pension within the product suite when the results of the research are known, later this year.

The form of the selling regime will be one of the factors taken into account by the Government in the decision on the charge cap.

Horse Passports: VAT

Lord Burnham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a decision has been finalised on the application of VAT to horse passports.[HL950]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): The issue of horse passports by a VAT-registered business in return for payment is a service that would be subject to VAT.

4 Feb 2004 : Column WA109

Sports Coaching Qualifications: Funding

Lord Pendry asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What routes are available for volunteers to access government-funded courses leading to recognised coaching qualifications.[HL994]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: SkillsActive is the new Sector Skills Council for active leisure and learning whose role is to help connect organisations developing and offering qualifications to work in the sector with appropriate opportunities to attract funding for individual candidates. One of the early priorities for SkillsActive is to develop a co-ordinated strategy to access mainstream government funding opportunities that have the potential to support people development in sport and recreation, particularly in the area of coaching. At a local level, individuals are supported by county sports partnerships and local authorities to access funding, and scholarship opportunities are also available through Sport England's lottery programme.

Drug Free Sport Directorate

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answers by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 20 January (WA 131–132), who made the decision to suspend the Head of the Drug Free Sport Directorate at UK Sport; and whether before the final decision was taken there were discussions about the decision with the interim chair of UK Sport, the Minister for Sport, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and officials from the Office of the Prime Minister.[HL995]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The acting chair of UK Sport is presently in discussion with the director of Drug Free Sport about her future. For the time being, she remains on leave. As part of the acting chair's mandated responsibility to reform UK Sport, she is in regular dialogue with both the Minister and the Secretary of State, who have been kept fully informed of developments.

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 5 January (WA 20), how much the review by PMP consultants of the Drug Free Sport Directorate at UK Sport is costing; and whether the consultants will have access to the report produced for the chief executive of UK Sport by Dr Roger Jackson on the United Kingdom system of drug testing.[HL996]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Council of UK Sport appointed PMP Consulting to review the Drug Free Sport Directorate following a competitive tendering process The cost of the report will be £29,800. A private report prepared for the former chief executive of UK Sport by the Canadian consultant Roger Jackson has been passed to the consultants.

4 Feb 2004 : Column WA110

Crystal Palace National Sports Centre

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What guarantees are in place to secure Crystal Palace National Sports Centre as a world class centre of sporting excellence after the summer of 2006.[HL1000]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government, together with other stakeholders, are continuing discussion aimed at delivering a solution for the benefit of English Sport and local residents. However, subject to the resources available, it is for Sport England to determine how best to meet the objectives it has been set for English Sport and it is for the London Borough of Bromley together with the GLA to determine how best to meet the needs of its residents.

Sport: Overseas Tours

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consider developing a formal protocol between them and national governing bodies of sport for tours and competitions with overseas countries which are considered to have an unacceptable record on human right issues.[HL1031]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Unless general sanctions are in place in respect of individual states, decisions on overseas tours are sporting matters for national governing bodies and, where appropriate, for international sports federations. National governing bodies in the UK are fully aware that, in all such cases, the Government remain committed to providing advice and guidance on the safety and security of players, administrators and spectators, or on other issues on which governing bodies may seek guidance.

Public Bodies: Disabled Members

Baroness Howe of Idlicote asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the overall 2005 target for disabled members of public bodies; and which government department is (a) nearest and (b) furthest from achieving these goals.[HL1026]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government's aim is that there should be increased participation of disabled people in public appointments. Statistics on disabled people holding public appointments show that since 2001, when statistics were first collected, there has been an increase in the representation of disabled people on the boards of public bodies from at least 1.5 per cent in 2001, to at least 3.1 per cent in 2003.

Information abut the progress made by individual departments is provided in Delivering Diversity in Public Appointments 2003 published on 17 December 2003, copies of which have been placed in the Libraries of the House.



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