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Press Office

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when Ian Jones was first informed of his suspension on full pay. [41995]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 11 March 2002]: Monday 4 March 2002.

Central Railway

Mr. Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the proposal to build a freight railway by Central Railway Ltd. [43086]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 14 March 2002]: I have written to the Chairman of Central Railway informing him of my response to his request for support for a hybrid Bill as a means of authorising the company's proposed freight railway.

The Government have made clear that we are committed to rail freight growth as a key element of sustainable distribution. To that end we will wish to support, in principle, projects that offer value for money in both the economic and environmental benefits they can bring to the country.

In considering Central Railway's request for early Government support for a Bill to promote its own project, I have taken into account a number of factors and listened to representations from many interested parties. In our view there is not enough evidence at the moment to enable the Government to support a hybrid Bill for Central Railway's project.

With the help of consultants and with the co-operation of Central Railway, the SRA will therefore carry out a further detailed assessment in order to test key remaining areas of the proposals. This is an essential piece of work if the Government are to be able to take an informed decision about Central Railway's hybrid Bill. The SRA anticipates that work to be completed by September.

Cleaner Vehicles Task Force

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he will publish an updated Government response to the recommendations from the Cleaner Vehicles Task Force. [43879]

Mr. Jamieson: I have today published an updated response detailing the actions that Government has taken in the last 12 months to advance the recommendations of the Cleaner Vehicles Task Force and to accelerate the take up of cleaner fuels and cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles. Copies have been placed in the Libraries in the House.

EDUCATION AND SKILLS

Accommodation Costs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the cost was of hotel

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accommodation for departmental staff working away from home in each of the last four years. [41054]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The information is set out for the last three financial years, prior to that, the service was undertaken by a different provider and records are not available except at disproportionate cost.

Financial yearSpend £
1998–99823,567
1999–20001,020,420
2000–011,223,926

Unauthorised Absences

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many unauthorised absences there were in (a) state primary schools and (b) state secondary schools, broken down by each local education authority in England for each year since 1997. [42225]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The number of half days missed due to unauthorised absences in (a) maintained primary schools and (b) maintained secondary schools by each local education authority in England since 1997 are shown in the table, copies of which have been placed in the Library.

Accountancy Contracts

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the contracts agreed by her Department with the five largest accountancy firms since May 1997; and what was the total value of contracts with each. [42099]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: This information could be supplied only at disproportionate cost.

Public Appointments

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many appointments to public bodies have been made through her 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. [42160]

Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 12 March 2002]: The numbers of men and women appointed or re-appointed to non-departmental public bodies sponsored by the former Department for Education and Employment and this Department during the periods in question are as follows:

MenWomen
April 2000 to March 20018637
April 2001 to March 2002162

Regulatory Impact Unit

Matthew Taylor: : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many members her Department employs in its Regulatory Impact Unit; and if she will make a statement. [42936]

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Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department employs one full-time member of staff in its Regulatory Impact Unit, with line management support when necessary.

It is the job of the Departmental Regulatory Impact Unit to establish and promote the principles of good regulation in the Department. The Unit works closely with the officials responsible for developing policies in the Department and the Regulatory Impact Unit within the Cabinet Office. It focuses on those regulations that impact on business, charities and the voluntary sector.

In addition there are 11 members of staff who working in the Small Business Service on better regulation for small business across Government.

Specialist Teachers

Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many shortage-subject specialist teachers in primary schools were (a) PGCE primary trained and (b) PGCE secondary trained. [43418]

Mr. Timms: This information is not collected centrally.

Standards Fund

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, pursuant to the answer of 27 February 2002, Official Report, columns 1293–96W, on the Standards Fund, what factors account for the difference between the allocations for the Standards Fund per pupil for Poole, Bournemouth and Dorset. [43567]

Mr. Timms : The Standards Fund is not allocated on a simple per pupil basis, but in relation to the specific priorities it is designed to support in each local education authority. Significant variances in the per pupil figures for Standards Fund are due to: grants where one authority is acting as a co-ordinator for others in its area; or grants allocated to particular types of school; and grants that are allocated to respond to needs, which may not be reflected equally in all authorities. The per pupil figure for each of these types of grants for Dorset, Poole and Bournemouth are shown in the following table:

Main differences in Standards Fund per pupil

GrantDorset £ per pupilPoole £ per pupilBournemouth £ per pupil
Regional coordination
LEA Music Services600
Child Protection Co-ordinators   0 02
Allocated by specific types of school
Specialist Schools18817
Small Schools Fund1722
Specific needs based initiatives
Induction of Newly Qualified Teachers7116
Reducing Infant Class Sizes422194
Fresh Start00110
Information Management Strategy530
Classrooms of the Future6328
School Laboratories440
Total10454260

For other Standards Fund grants the total per pupil distribution is: £244, £251 and £247 for Dorset, Poole and Bournemouth respectively. The smaller differences are due to variances in the level of free school meal eligibility and the balance between primary and secondary pupils.


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School Admissions (Racial Equality)

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidance she will make available to schools on the implementation of Commission for Racial Equality guidance that admissions should reflect the ethnic make-up of the community. [43832]

Mr. Timms: The Commission for Racial Equality will be issuing guidance to schools on how to comply with the general and specific duties as set out in the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of (a) which schools or categories of school are exempt from the Commission for Racial Equality guidance that school admissions should reflect the ethnic make-up of the community and (b) how the CRE guidance should be interpreted by admissions forums. [43831]

Mr. Timms: The guidance issued by the Commission for Racial Equality will apply to all maintained schools. It is the responsibility of individual admission authorities to ensure that their policies comply with all legislation, including the Race Relations Acts. Admission forums are advisory bodies and do not decide school admissions policies.


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