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Class Sizes

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidance she gives to (a) schools and (b) local education authorities on the course of action to be adopted where it appears necessary for infants to be taught in classes of more than 30 pupils. [15384]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 16 November 2001]: Since September 2001 schools and local education authorities have been responsible for ensuring that infant classes for 5, 6 and 7 year olds are limited to 30 or fewer except where permitted by legislation.

How schools organise their classes is a matter for agreement between the LEA and the schools. The Department has issued no guidance to LEAs or schools on how classes which exceed the limit for permitted reasons should be organised.

Fair Trade Goods

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her Department's policy is in relation to departmental spending for supplies concerning the purchase of fair trade goods. [15204]

Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 16 November 2001]: The Department for Education and Skills takes every opportunity, like the Department for International Development (DFID), to promote fair trade products and also to support ethical trading in mainstream business. DfES seeks prices for both fair trade and non-fair trade

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products from suppliers during tender exercises for the provision of catering services. In line with Government procurement policy the evaluation of tenders is based on value for money considerations having due regard to propriety and regularity. We also encourage our current catering providers to offer fair trade products as an option to customers in staff restaurants.

Neighbourhood Renewal

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the cost is in 2001–02 of the implementation of recommendations in the social exclusion unit's report on neighbourhood renewal. [14083]

Ms Keeble: I have been asked to reply

The National Strategy Action Plan for Neighbourhood Renewal aims to develop common goals including better health, skills, housing and physical environment, and to narrow the gap on these measures between the most deprived neighbourhoods and the rest of the country. If these aims are to be fulfilled, efforts to provide direct support to deprived neighbourhoods must be combined with efforts to "bend" mainstream programmes that provide funding to ensure that challenges faced by deprived areas can be addressed. To this end the Government will be spending an additional £43 billion a year on core public services by 2004. The costs of implementing the recommendations on neighbourhood renewal are embedded in these and the other billions of pounds spent by Government Departments, and it would involve disproportionate costs to disaggregate this expenditure.

Internet Access

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the number of schools with internet access (a) nationally and (b) in boroughs of (i) Middlesbrough, (ii) Redcar and (iii) Cleveland; and what were the Department's targets in each case. [16214]

John Healey: Statistics published by the Department for Education and Skills in October show that 97 per cent. of schools in England are now connected to the internet; significant progress from a position where only 28 per cent. were connected in 1998. Our target is that every school should have access to the internet in 2002.

The Department does not maintain information about internet access in schools on a regional or local basis.



Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will publish the latest OCNS advice on the manufacture and transportation of nuclear material to and from the MOX site at Sellafield. [8874]

Margaret Beckett: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and I decided on 3 October that MOX manufacture is justified under the Basic Safety Standards Directive. We took account of all relevant issues up to that date, including security considerations. A copy of our

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decision is in the Library, including a summary of some of the main considerations taken into account. The advice of the Office for Civil Nuclear Security is contained in the decision document. Paragraph 67–69 of the document and paragraphs 25–33 of Annexe 1 describe security issues in detail.

Meat Hygiene Service

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of Meat Hygiene Service charges on the profitability and operation of small to medium-sized abattoirs. [9806]

Mr. Morley: Following the introduction of revised meat hygiene service charges for abattoirs on 1 April this year there has been no assessment made on their impact to small and medium-sized abattoirs. There is no doubt that there will be positive benefits for small and medium-sized abattoirs but it is too early to assess how the revised charging system will affect their profitability or future operation. Despite the reduction in abattoir numbers over recent years there remains considerable over-capacity in the slaughtering sector and a reasonable spread of abattoirs across most parts of the country. A recent study by the Meat and Livestock Commission found that, while larger abattoirs accounted for over 80 per cent. of the slaughterings of pigs and sheep in 2000–01, small and medium abattoirs increased their share of the numbers of cattle slaughtered. This stood at 46 per cent. in larger abattoirs.

Cod Stocks

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent measures she has taken, and what further measures she plans to take, to preserve cod stocks. [10616]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 26 October 2001]: The United Kingdom has played a full part with the Commission and the other member states concerned in developing the second stage of the cod recovery programme for the North sea and west of Scotland. These revised requirements come into force from 1 January 2002. The UK fishing industry has also been involved closely with the process.

We stand ready to play a similar part in taking forward the Irish sea cod recovery programme on which we expect a proposal from the Commission, shortly, for a repeat of the spring spawning closure. We also expect the Commission to bring forward additional ideas to progress the recovery plan for the northern hake stock.

Flood Defences

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the annual grant to the Environment Agency for flood defence work has been in each of the last four years in (a) current and (b) real terms; what the projected figures for the remainder of the planning period are; and if she will make a statement. [10605]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 26 October 2001]: My Department provides funding to the Environment Agency, local authorities and internal drainage boards for capital works that meet essential criteria and has also in

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recent years made funds available to the agency for other initiatives, for example to assist with flood risk public awareness and recently to assist in meeting the extra costs for emergency response and repair associated with last year's floods, and special funding for the design and feasibility costs of river defences.

Allocations to individual authorities, such as the agency, within the total provision depends on the plans identified by those authorities and assessment against the Department's priority score arrangements. Actual outturn reflects the authorities' ability to deliver those plans. Allocations are decided in advance of the start of each financial year and I have just announced those for 2002–03. Therefore separate figures for the Environment Agency are not available for 2003–04 but otherwise the figures requested are:

Environment agency
£ million

Current prices
Grants on capital worksContributions on other initiativesTotalReal prices(26) Total
Actual outturn:
Current allocation:

(26) Using Retail Prices Index with the base year set to 1997

(27) Expected future RPI increasing at 2.5 per cent. per annum

(28) Allocation for this year was increased significantly in year by the redistribution of funds from elsewhere in the Department

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