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Connexions

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether the Connexions Service has power to obtain information about individual young people from (a) the Benefits Agency, (b) youth services, (c) social services departments, (d) local education authorities, (e) youth offending teams and (f) the police. [42131]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: [holding answer 11 March 2002]: The Learning and Skills Act 2000 enables all these organisations to provide information to Connexions.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which information local provider databases within a Connexions partnership they are required to retain about 13 to 19-year-olds, which they are required to pass on to the partnership, regional databases and national database; and what right individual data subjects have to prevent information being passed on. [42135]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: [holding answer 11 March 2002]: Local providers are required to provide information to Connexions partnerships according to the terms of section 117 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000.

There is no current requirement for Connexions partnerships to pass any individual data to a regional or national database. Aggregated information is required to be provided for management information purposes.

The rights of individual subjects to prevent information being passed on are safeguarded by the Data Protection Act.

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We are looking to improve the information that is available to Connexions partnerships and personal advisers, to support their service to young people while respecting the principles of the Data Protection Act. This will be done through the introduction of a new Connexions Customer Information System, which is currently being developed.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what information is collected by the Connexions service about children and young adults (a) with and (b) without the agreement of the data subject; from what sources; and whether data will be (i) retained and (ii) passed on to other agencies without the agreement of the data subject. [42145]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: [holding answer 11 March 2002]: Local Connexions partnerships are building the information systems needed to offer the most effective service to young people. Their activities take place within the framework of the Learning and Skills Act 2000, and partnerships also need to observe the principles of the Data Protection Act. Partnerships are data controllers in their own right; my Department supports them with advice and guidance.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills with which other Government operated databases the national Connexions database will be cross-matched; and if data subjects on those databases will (a) be informed and (b) have the right to opt out of such matching. [42332]

Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 11 March 2002]: We are examining what national approaches will be appropriate to support the work of local Connexions partnerships. Feasibility testing is at an early stage. In part this involves looking, in co-operation with the office of the Information Commissioner, at how to make best use of the Child Benefit Register and schools data sources.

Arson

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps the Government are taking to reduce malicious fires and arson in schools; and if she will make a statement. [42226]

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Mr. Ivan Lewis: Most arson attacks take place when schools are closed, but all of them have the potential to cause considerable damage and disruption. Buildings may be destroyed, and irreplaceable records, teaching notes and course work lost.

Officials from my Department sit on the Arson in Schools Working Group, a group of experts representing the insurance industry, the fire and police services, local authorities and Government Departments. One of its outputs has been the publication of the guide "How to Combat Arson in Schools", which is available free and has been well received by schools.

My Department has also published the guide "Fire Safety", which includes advice on how to reduce the risks of arson attacks. This complements our guidance on reducing crime in schools, such as the booklet "Improving Security in Schools" and the video "Can You See What They See?" A school security website has been established.

Teachers' Pay

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether funds provided to schools for payment of the upper spine of teacher remuneration can be used for other purposes. [42239]

Mr. Timms: Schools will be able to use the new special grant for performance pay progression to pay for performance points awarded to teachers on the upper, leadership and advanced skills teacher pay scales and for double increments awarded to teachers on the main pay scale. The grant cannot be used for other purposes. The existing special grant for threshold payments (which take teachers to point 1 of the upper pay scale) can be used only for that purpose.

Knowledge Transfer

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the (a) purpose and (b) cost of knowledge transfer initiatives sponsored by her Department in (i) 2000–01 and (ii) 2001–02. [42596]

Margaret Hodge: The knowledge transfer initiatives supported by the Department for Education and Skills in 2000–01 and 2001–02 are listed in the following table. These initiatives are partnerships with the Department of Trade and Industry; funding is routed via the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Only the cost to DfES is shown.

(b) Cost to DfES (£)
Initiative(a) Purpose(i) 2000–01(ii) 2001–02
Higher Education Reach-out to Business and the Community Fund (HEROBC)(19)To develop the capability of higher education institutions to respond to the needs of business of all sizes and sectors and a range of bodies within the wider community18,600,00020,000,000
Business FellowshipsTo focus on recognising and developing creative activities carried out within HEIs to build their response to the needs of business, across the full range of their academic activity.n/a103,125

(19) From 2001–02 HEROBC was subsumed in the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) whose purpose is to build capacity of higher education institutions to work with business, in particular small and medium enterprises (SMEs).


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DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER

Public Appointments

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many appointments to public bodies have been made through his Department (a) from April 2000 to March 2001 and (b) since 31 March 2001; and how many of these were (i) men and (ii) women. [42153]

Mr. Leslie: The following appointments have been made to public bodies sponsored by my Department.

1 April 2000 to 31 March 20011 April 2001 to 28 February 2002
Total public appointments72(20)32
of which:
Men4310
Women2922

(20) Includes 13 appointments to the Women's National Commission all of whom are women

In addition, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has made the following appointments to the Advisory Committees on Justices of the Peace in Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside.


1 April 2000 to 31 March 20011 April 2001 to 28 February 2002
Total public appointments1540
of which:
Men818
Women 722

Departmental Payments

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the instances in which his Department, agencies and non-departmental public bodies failed to pay valid invoices within 30 days or after the agreed credit period in the financial year 2000–01. [32023]

Mr. Leslie: All Departments are committed to pay 100 per cent. of correctly presented invoices on time. My Department undertakes to pay all invoices within 30 days of receiving them. However, payment terms may vary between Departments.

In the financial year 2000–01 the Cabinet Office and its agencies paid 96.36 per cent. of invoices within 30 days. This shows an improvement over the previous year.

More detailed information on specific instances of failure to pay within 30 days is not readily available and can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Civil Service Entrants

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what percentage of the senior civil service in each of the last four years has been (a) female, (b) members of ethnic minority groups and (c) former students of Oxford and Cambridge. [38315]

Mr. Leslie: The information is as follows:

(a) At 1 April each year, the percentage of the senior civil service who were female is shown.

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Percentage
199817.8
199919.7
200021.6
200124.2

(b) At 1 April each year, the percentage of those in senior civil service posts or equivalent who were known to be members of ethnic minority groups is shown:

Percentage
19981.6
19991.7
20002.2
20012.4

This information is collected by Departments in a voluntary questionnaire and is known to be incomplete.

At 1 April each year, the percentage of those in senior civil service posts or equivalent whose ethnic origin is unknown were as follows:

Percentage
199813.9
199910.3
200011.7
200112.5

Departments are currently re-surveying the ethnicity of their staff to bring the data into line with the Census 2001 categories.

This information relates to those in the senior civil service and other posts of equivalent responsibility (ie includes the diplomatic service and a number of other specialist posts).

(c) At 1 April each year, the percentages of the senior civil service who are known to have been to university and the percentages of those who are known to have been to Oxford or Cambridge are as follows:

Percentage

University status unknownKnown to have been to UniversityKnown to have been to Oxford or Cambridge as percentage of total
199932.967.124.1
200038.761.321.1
200143.256.818.8

The information is not available for 1998.

Officials are working with Departments to improve both the quality and coverage of the data.


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