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Whether in undertaking their review of the financial memorandum on grant-in-aid for royal travel they will consider (a) imposing a maximum budget for royal travel reimbursed by the taxpayer; (b) restricting the use of helicopters for journeys of fewer than 200 miles; (c) restricting the number of members of the royal family allowed to use transport funded by the taxpayer; and (d) laying before Parliament the revised draft memorandum in the form of a statutory instrument, in order to provide for parliamentary scrutiny of such expenditure. [HL4239]
The purpose of the memorandum is to provide guidance on the use of the grant-in-aid for official royal travel by air and rail. Details of annual allocations are not included in the memorandum; however an annual budget is agreed separately between the department and the royal household. This amounted to £5.9 million in 200506. Current forecasts are that expenditure for the year will be £5.6 million delivering, an underspend of about £300,000. The provisional budget for 200607 is £6 million.
There is no current intention to restrict the use of the Queen's helicopter or chartered helicopters. The decision to establish The Queen's Helicopter Flight in 1998 continues to be fully justified. In addition to delivering substantial cost savings compared with the previous 32 Squadron Wessex service, the helicopter has proved to be a highly efficient and cost-effective travel option. It provides the opportunity for members of the royal family to undertake a number of engagements at different locations on the same day.
The costs of all official journeys by air or rail undertaken by members of the royal family are met by the grant-in-aid. The only current restriction on travel relates to use of the royal train, which is confined to HM the Queen, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and HRH the Prince of Wales. There is no current intention to impose any further restrictions.
The household publishes a comprehensive annual report, which is placed in the Library and also published on the official royal website. This provides considerable detail on the operation of the grant.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): The current policy regarding collective worship is set out in the Department for Education and Skills Circular 1/94. All registered pupils attending a maintained school should take part in a daily act of collective worship, unless they have been withdrawn by their parents.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): Truancy is one of several reasons why a child may be absent from school without authorisation. My department has spent the following on measures aimed solely at reducing absence from schools:
In addition to these specific measures, my department has funded other initiatives, such as the behaviour improvement programme, that have had the reduction of absence and truancy as part of their overall objectives.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): The department has discussed trust schools with a wide range of organisations. We do not hold a comprehensive list of every organisation that has expressed interest or asked for information about forming a trust to support a school. I have placed in the Library a list of a number of those organisations with which we have discussed trust schools since the publication of the White Paper.
We are also engaged in early discussions with a number of other organisations. We will release information about them once they have agreed to be involved in a pathfinder (except in cases where release might prejudice discussions with stakeholders in the project) or if they have agreed to be publicly named as working with the Government to develop the trust school model.
In addition, the department has discussed academy sponsorship with in excess of 230 individuals and organisations. A large number of these potential sponsors spoke in confidence to the department; and indeed many of these sponsors have not progressed academy sponsorship. As such it is not possible to disclose the names without contacting the organisations concerned to discuss this. This could be achieved only at disproportionate cost. However, I have placed a list of those organisations that have completed a formal expression of interest and have entered the feasibility stage in the Library.
Representatives of the organisations listed have agreed that we can refer in public to their interest in working with the Government to develop the trust school model; and/or agreed that their thinking around trust schools can be used as a case study; and/or attended one of the recent seminars on trust schools.8 Mar 2006 : Column WA142
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