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Written Answers

Tuesday 13 November 2007

Childcare

Lord Northbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Lord Adonis): The Government know that informal care is a popular and important form of childcare for many parents, often in combination with formal childcare. Grandparents provide a high proportion of informal care and it is valued for the trust and the flexibility it provides.

The noble Lord has previously proposed that there should be financial support from the Government—perhaps through the tax credit system—for childcare provided by grandparents; or a duty on local authorities to provide information and training to grandparents to enhance their role as childcarers. Although we recognise the valuable service that grandparents provide when caring for their grandchildren, we do not think that it would be appropriate to encourage charging between family members who would not otherwise have done so. We believe that the necessary inspection checks would be intrusive and that people using relatives for childcare would not generally welcome such interference. Similarly, we do not think it would be appropriate to extend the provision in the Childcare Act 2006 which requires local authorities to secure information, advice and training for childcare providers so as to apply to those who care for children to whom they are related.

Long-term secure attachment is clearly important for young children. That is why the current national standards for day care and childminding, and the early years foundation stage which replaces them from September 2008, require that every child is assigned a key person. The role of the key person is to be a significant, constant individual on whom the child can depend while they are away from their parents, helping them feel happy and secure within settings so that they have confidence to learn and explore. The key person also forms a relationship with the child's parents, working with them to ensure that the child's individual needs are met.



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Lord Northbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Adonis: The Government are committed to delivering at least 3,500 Sure Start children's centres by 2010—one for every community—and are providing more than £3 billion to support services in these centres over the next three financial years (2008-11). We do not recognise the suggested figure of average grant per centre per year, nor how it has been derived. In August we advised local authorities of their Sure Start, early years and childcare grant allocations, which included revenue allocations for children's centres and Sure Start local programmes, most of which are now designated children's centres. There are currently more than 1,600 centres up and running. Our recent guidance to local authorities Sure Start Children's Centres: Phase 3 Planning and Delivery explains that the allocations provide sufficient resource for 1,500 centres to provide intensive support services for around a million children under five living in the most disadvantaged areas; resources for around another 1,000 centres serving families living in less disadvantaged areas to provide services at a less intensive level; and set-up costs for around 1,000 centres that are being developed between 2008 and 2010. The guidance provides illustrative models of resources needed: around £400,000 on average in a full year to fund the most intensive support services for the most disadvantaged communities; and, depending on needs, between £250,000 and £100,000 in a full year for fully operational centres serving families in less disadvantaged areas. The guidance also clarifies that family and community health services and employment or training advice services, both key elements of the centres' services, are not intended to be funded through children's centres revenue. Resources for these activities come from the NHS and Jobcentre Plus.

Children: Registration of Fathers

Lord Northbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.



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Letter from Karen Dunnell, National Statistician and Registrar General, toLord Northbourne dated 12 November 2007.

As the National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your question regarding how many and what proportion of unmarried fathers jointly with the mother registered their child's birth; or, how many and what proportion of children born to unmarried parents were registered by both parents jointly in the last period for which figures are available. (HL86)



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The table below shows figures on live births to unmarried parents, broken down by registration type. Births occurring outside marriage may be registered either jointly or solely. A joint registration records details of both parents, and requires them both to be present. A sole registration records only the mother's details.

In 2005, the latest available year for which figures are available, 84 per cent of live births occurring outside marriage were jointly registered by both parents.

Live births outside marriage: whether joint or sole registration, England and Wales 2005
Total live births outside marriageJoint RegistrationSole registration
NumberNumberPercentage (%)NumberPercentage (%)

2005

276,505

231,335

84

45,170

16

The counts provided above are published annually in Birth Statistics, Series FM1, Table 3.8. Data for 2006 will be published in Series FM1 No. 35 in December 2007.

Community Cohesion

Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Local Government White Paper, Strong and Prosperous Communities, published in October 2006, recognised that local authorities and their partners are at the heart of building cohesion. In its recent report, Our Shared Future, the Commission on Integration and Cohesion said that improving cohesion is about local action: local areas have the necessary knowledge about local circumstances. Inclusion of cohesion as a priority outcome in the arrangements for local area agreements reflects the importance of local activity. In her response to the commission, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has announced that the Government will invest £50 million over the next three years to support local authorities in promoting community cohesion and in preventing and managing community tensions.

Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Andrews: In her recent response to the Commission on Integration and Cohesion, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government announced that the Government will be investing £50 million over the next three years to support local authorities in promoting community cohesion and in preventing and managing community tensions.

Her Majesty's Government continue to support local areas facing specific cohesion issues around new migrants by identifying and disseminating good practice, and formal peer mentoring support. In addition, Her Majesty's Government have committed to producing a consistent template for a local area information pack for new migrants, new teams to support local areas experiencing particularly rapid change and guidance on translation for local authorities.

Faith Schools

Lord Baker of Dorking asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Lord Adonis): The Education and Inspections Act 2006 placed a new duty on the governing bodies of maintained schools—including, but not limited to, maintained faith schools—to promote community cohesion. It is planned that Ofsted will inspect all maintained schools for their contribution to community cohesion from September 2008 onwards as part of its normal school inspection cycle.

Also, since May 2003 all proposals for new maintained schools—again including, but not limited to, maintained faith schools—have had to include information on how the proposed school will contribute to community cohesion. Under current decision-making arrangements, the local authority or schools adjudicator must be satisfied that the proposals for new schools will meet the duty to promote community cohesion.



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Lord Baker of Dorking asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Adonis: The Government do not comment on the individual teachings of specific faiths.

The Government are committed to promoting tolerant and cohesive communities and recognise the important role education can play. The Education and Inspections Act 2006 introduced a statutory duty on schools to promote community cohesion and Ofsted is planning to inspect schools against this duty from September 2008.

Further Education

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Lord Triesman): The Government are committed to encouraging social cohesion through a wide range of policies. In relation to English provision, changes have already been made to the funding and provision of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses, which came into force in August 2007. Full details of the changes are available in the Learning and Skills Council funding eligibility guidance. These changes included the withdrawal of automatic fee remission for ESOL courses with learners who are not in receipt of income-related benefits now being asked to make a contribution of 37.5 per cent of the course fees. This is in line with the Government's view that those who are able to pay for ESOL courses should make a contribution to the costs. The changes in August were intended to allow provision of free ESOL for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable learners. A race equality impact assessment was used to identify priority groups and extra support for vulnerable learners such as low-paid workers and spouses is available through a hardship fund. The outcome of the changes made in August is still being assessed but initial indications are that these are helping to reduce waiting lists. The Government will continue to review how funding, rules and charges for ESOL courses can be further prioritised towards those in greatest need in line with social cohesion.

Government: Regional Ministers

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): No guidance has been issued; it is for regional Ministers to decide what time to devote to their regional role.

House of Lords: Website

Lord Norton of Louth asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The webpages on the work, history and proceedings of the House of Lords are integrated within the parliamentary website as a whole and do not form a distinct website. It is therefore not possible to quantify the number of hits directed to all House of Lords webpages. However, statistics are available since October 2006 for the number of visits to the House of Lords homepage http://www.parliament.uk/lords/index.cfm. These are as follows:

MonthNumber of Visits

October 2006

27,924

November 2006

29,897

December 2006

19,745

January 2007

28,053

February 2007

25,758

March 2007

33,533

April 2007

20,281

May 2007

28,381

June 2007

22,535

July 2007

23,477

August 2007

12,803

September 2007

16,286

October 2007

26,958

PICT is engaged in a series of improvements to the website to make it easier for the public to find information about Parliament and its work. Recent developments include an improved search facility, the publication of deposited papers online, Bills online, and a new parliamentary calendar. A series of useability and accessibility tests for the website is planned with members of the public in January and February 2008.


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