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House of Commons
Session 2005 - 06
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Supplement to the House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
9 December 2005

SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

PETITION FROM AMANDA CRANMER AND OTHERS

7th December 2005

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of Miss Amanda Cranmer and others,

Declares that the right of oral appeal and current definition of family members for visitor's visas and the right of appeal for overseas students are very important to Institutions of Higher Education as well as to ethnic communities throughout the United Kingdom.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government not to abolish the above mentioned rights and definitions.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

PETITION FROM SUPPORTERS OF THE CAMPAIGN FOR JUSTICE FOR MOHAN SINGH

7th December 2005

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of the campaign for justice for Mohan Singh,

Declares that Mr Mohan Singh, a British Citizen, was murdered while he was overseeing a house-building project in the Punjab, India.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the British Government to work with the Indian Government to help bring the perpetrators of Mohan Singh's death to justice and to ensure that the necessary measures are in place for British citizens to travel safely to India.

The Petitioners further request that the House of Commons urge the Foreign Secretary to take steps and work with his counterpart in India to help with investigations and bring the perpetrators to justice.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

PETITION FROM THE ISITFAIR COUNCIL TAX PROTEST CAMPAIGN

7th December 2005

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of the Isitfair Council Tax protest campaign,

Declares that the year-on-year, inflation-busting increases in Council Tax are causing hardship to many and take no account of ability to pay; further that the proposed property revaluation and re-banding exercise will make an already flawed system even worse.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons votes to replace Council Tax with a fair and equitable tax that, without recourse to any supplementary benefit, takes into account ability to pay from disposable income. Such tax to be based on a system that is free from any geographically or politically motivated discrimination, and that clearly identifies the fiscal and managerial responsibilities of all involved parties.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

Observations by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on the Petition [15th November] from Linzi Cooper, Emma Lavery, students of Bede College, residents of Bellingham and others for changes to the funding systems for colleges.

    The Secretary of State announced on 16th November our plans for narrowing the funding gap between school sixth forms and colleges for like-for-like 16-19 provision. We recognise that closing this gap will not be easy but we have taken important steps in the funding package we announced on 21st October 2005. We estimate that matching the Schools' Minimum Funding Guarantee for young people in FE in 2006-07, together with other measures to correct technical anomalies between the two funding systems will reduce the gap from 13% to 8% by 2006-07. From 2008 we will look to bring greater consistency to the treatment of student retention and achievement between the sectors which should narrow the gap by a further 3%. Beyond that, we will work to establish a common funding approach across the two sectors, through the Learning and Skills Council's (LSC) Agenda for Change.

    The funding gap is longstanding and the removal of the FE sector from local authority control, efficiency cuts during mid 1990s and large increases in schools funding have all contributed to it. While we can not solve this problem overnight we are committed to tackling it as rapidly as we can.

    We are aware that some colleges are unhappy about the application of VAT laws. Local Authority controlled schools are able to recover VAT paid on their purchases whilst colleges, following incorporation in 1992, are not. We are unable to change the UK VAT law as this hangs on European VAT law, and neither colleges nor Government would want to revert colleges to Local Authority control simply to equate the VAT position. The VAT laws are a matter for HM Customs and Excise.

    The LSC are looking to address the differences in funding systems through their Agenda for Change proposals. The proposed arrangements will bring greater consistency and coherence to post-16 funding of education and skills. The LSC have been consulting on this revised methodology and will pilot the arrangements in further education during 2006-07, while they consult further on the potential application of these proposals in schools.

    In 1999, funds were made available to further education colleges with the explicit goal of raising standards and improving quality and to mirror arrangements for standards funding in schools. The Local Intervention and Development Fund (LIDF) is the latest version of such targeted funding administered by the LSC. This is a key source of discretionary funding used for transforming local delivery of post-16 education and training and raising standards.

    There are different approaches to capital investment between the schools and FE sectors. This reflects, in part, the marked differences between the two sectors. Colleges gained a range of important financial advantages from incorporation including control over their own assets. Colleges have the ability to build their asset base and it is right that colleges should contribute to the cost of capital developments from their income streams and from effective use of their assets, wherever this proves to be affordable. As independent private organisations, colleges may also raise funds through borrowing on the open market.

    The capital budget for the post 16 sector is administered by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Its national capital strategy provides a context within which regional capital strategies and local LSC's capital plans can be developed, in consultation with regional and local stakeholders to provide a unified context for the promotion, assessment and delivery of providers' capital projects. This is done in such a way as to maximise their educational and t