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External Examiners

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what guidance is given to (a) universities and (b) university departments on choosing external examiners. [109025]

Mr. Wicks: The Quality Assurance Agency published a section of its Code of Practice that deals with External Examining in January 2000. This contains advice on the appointment of external examiners.

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what instructions his Department gives to universities in respect of payment of fees to external examiners. [109026]

Mr. Wicks: Payment of fees to external examiners is a matter for individual institutions.

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what issues are included in the reviews undertaken by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education relating to external examiners. [109024]

Mr. Wicks: The Quality Assurance Agency considers, in relation to assessment and quality management, the use made by an institution of its external examiners and of their reports. It also considers, in relation to the way an institution discharges its responsibilities for the academic standards of all its awards, the selection, appointment and briefing procedures used and the approaches adopted to the follow-up of external examiners' comments.

Departmental Responsibility

Mr. Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment on what date his Department assumed responsibility for educating children with learning disabilities from the Department of Health and Social Security. [109172]

Jacqui Smith: The Education (Handicapped Children) Act 1970 removed the power of health authorities to provide training for children with learning disabilities and transferred responsibility for the education of these children to Local Education Authorities.

The Government's education policy includes a clear strategy for children with special educational needs. A cornerstone of that strategy is to develop and promote the inclusion of children with special educational needs in mainstream schools, where parents want this and appropriate support is available.

Mr. Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when his Department assumed responsibility for pensions of nurses and ancillary staff working in education establishments who had previously been the responsibility of the Department of Health and Social Security. [109173]

Mr. Wicks: Academic staff in the former Colleges of Health, which have transferred to the higher education sector, have been eligible for membership of the Teachers' Pension Scheme since 1992.

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Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with the Government of Montserrat regarding conditions on the Island of Montserrat and the need for some residents to relocate to the United Kingdom. [108758]

Clare Short: The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State last met with the Montserrat Chief Minister during the October 1999 Consultative Council meetings in London. Senior officials visit the island regularly.

In October 1997, my Department approved £1.6 million for the Assisted Passage Scheme, which met the cost of flights and onward travel costs of those people who chose to relocate to the UK. DFID also finances an Evacuee Return Air Fare Scheme for those wishing to return to Montserrat.


Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what procedures she is establishing to consult (a) NGOs and (b) other interested parties before she publishes her proposed White Paper on globalisation. [108979]

Clare Short: We will invite widespread consultations as part of the preparation of the White Paper. This will include establishing a White Paper website on which we will place a brief outline of the paper, and inviting submissions from the public, non-governmental organisations and other interested parties. The consultation process will in particular include developing countries, and international organisations.

Aid Misappropriation

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the percentage of United Kingdom Government aid and development funding which is misappropriated by the recipient country. [109103]

Clare Short: No instances have been identified where UK Development assistance has been misappropriated by the recipient country.


Arms Exports (Zimbabwe)

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Prime Minister what is the Government's policy on the export of spare parts for British Hawk Jets to Zimbabwe. [107090]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 27 January 2000]: Following an interdepartmental review, the Government's policy on export licences for countries intervening in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been tightened.

We will not grant export licences for new military or dual-use equipment where there is a clear risk that it would be used in the DRC.

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We will remove intervening countries from the coverage of open licences for any equipment that might be deployed in the DRC and will not issue new Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs) for such equipment to any of these countries.

We will continue to implement rigorously our national criteria and the EU Code of Conduct for all applications for Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs), examining each on a case-by-case basis.

This will include applications to provide spares for UK equipment already supplied under pre-existing contracts. In reaching decisions on such individual applications, we will take into account the wider implications of forcing UK companies to break existing obligations.

This policy applies to those countries who have signed the Lusaka peace agreement, ie Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC itself, plus Burundi which has acknowledged that it has troops in the DRC. Details will be included in the "Summary of Additional UK Restrictions on the Export of Strategic Goods", an annexe to the "List of Sanctions Regimes implemented by the UK", which are available on the FCO website at Copies are also in the Libraries of the House.


Mr. Lansley: To ask the Prime Minister how many replies to letters he sent to members of the public in 1999; and how many letters were answered on his behalf by his office rather than by Ministers in other Government Departments. [109031]

The Prime Minister: My office received 465,432 letters and cards from members of the public--an increase of 84 per cent. over the previous year. How this correspondence can best be replied to is considered on an individual basis. It is not possible for me to deal personally with all of the letters I receive and I must refer a large majority of letters from members of the public to the Minister and the Department that has responsibility for policy or the matter in question.


Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister what representations he has received from the Bulgarian Government concerning (a) the consequences for Bulgaria of sanctions against Yugoslavia and (b) the situation in Kosovo, with particular reference to its multi-ethnic composition. [108231]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 7 February 2000]: The Bulgarian Government have been consistent in their support for NATO policy towards Yugoslavia ever since the breakdown of the Rambouillet talks in March last year. The Bulgarian Government has expressed understandable concern about the impact to their economy of the Kosovo crisis, including sanctions against Yugoslavia and the closure of the Danube--in particular on their transport links through Serbia to Western European markets. The latest World bank figures indicate that the cost to the Bulgarian economy of the crisis since last March has been some US$100 million. HM Government are seeking to address these concerns through the Stability Pact and other multilateral and

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bilateral assistance projects, including the Know How Fund. Bulgaria supports a multi-ethnic Kosovo with wide- ranging autonomy within Yugoslavia.

Robert Schuman Project

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on Government policy towards the Robert Schuman Project to improve awareness of community law within the legal profession; and which EU budget line funds the project. [108333]

The Prime Minister: An appropriate level of knowledge of Community law among judges and lawyers is vital for the proper functioning of the single market; that in turn is in the clear interests of the United Kingdom. However, a survey carried out in 1995 suggested that there could be substantial benefits in training in and use of Community law among lawyers and judges throughout the European Union. The Government therefore support the aims of this project, to offer financial assistance to national training schemes in Community law.

The Schuman project is financed from budget line B5-3001, entitled "Implementation and development of the internal market". Additional expenditure to finance administrative costs may come from budget line BA5-3001, entitled "Implementation and development of the internal market--administrative-management expenditure". The project falls within the ministerial responsibility of my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor.

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