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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 30 April 2002


Sentence Review

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Solicitor-General how many applications he has received in the last 12 months via (a) the CPS, (b) members of the public and (c) hon. Members for the review of unduly lenient sentences; and how many in each category have (i) been rejected as out of time, (ii) been reviewed resulting in referral to the CPS, (iii) been reviewed resulting in referral to the courts and (iv) resulted in increased sentences. [51992]

The Solicitor-General: The Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General have the power (under sections 35 and 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1998) to refer a sentence for certain categories of offences to the Court of Appeal for review, if it appears to be not merely lenient but unduly so.

The law requires a reference to be lodged with the Court of Appeal within 28 days of the date of sentence. This period cannot be extended.

During the last year (from 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002) the Crown Prosecution Service sent 191 cases to the Law Officers for a review of the sentence as an unduly lenient sentence.

In addition the Law Officers received similar applications in 17 cases from members of the public, and a further five cases from Members of Parliament. The Law Officers have also received three ULS referral cases from HM Customs and Excise.

In all, during the relevant period, the Law Officers have received applications for a referral in 216 cases.

Two (out of the 17) cases referred by members of the public were received beyond the 28-day time limit for referral and therefore could not be considered for a reference to the Court of Appeal.

Of the 216 cases sent to the Law Officers, 110 were referred by the Law Officers to the Court of Appeal for a review of the sentence.

According to our records, of these, to date, the Court of Appeal has heard 49 cases. Of the 49 cases heard, the results known to date indicate that the Court of Appeal granted leave in 45 cases and found the sentence to be unduly lenient in 44 cases. Despite concluding that a sentence is unduly lenient, the Court of Appeal can, in the circumstances of a particular case, apply its discretion and decide not to increase the sentence. In eight of the cases the Court of Appeal, applying its discretion decided not to increase the sentence. However it increased the sentence in 36 cases.

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Free School Meals

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will rank each constituency in England by the percentage of school children eligible for free school meals. [51288]

John Healey: The information requested has been placed in the Library.


Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many cases (a) her Department and (b) its agencies have defended in (i) industrial tribunals and (ii) the courts in each year since 1997; how many were concluded in their favour; and what the total cost to his Department of litigation was in each year. [41115]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department for Education and Skills (DfES), and its predecessor the Department for Education and Employment and the Employment Service, defended the following Employment Tribunals in the years from 1997:

CasesConcluded in Department's favour

The total cost to the Department of defending Employment Tribunal cases each year is not available.

The DfES has no agencies.


Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to relocate executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies under the remit of her Department to Scotland. [47949]

Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 10 April 2002]: This Department does not have any executive agencies. It has twelve non-executive non-departmental public bodies, one of which, the Student Loans Company, is located in Scotland. There are no plans to relocate any others.

Individual Learning Accounts

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the ILA providers against whom complaints which remain unresolved were (a) received by Capita and (b) passed to her Department, showing the number of complaints. [49880]

John Healey [holding answer 15 April 2002]: Capita notified the Department of some 8,600 complaints relating to non-compliance with the ILA programme rules and ILA accounts being accessed without the ILA account holder's consent. Following a data cleansing exercise some 1,400 complaints have been removed relating to complaints cleared, correction of duplicate complaints

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received by, for example, telephone and letter and correction of other anomalies. The remaining 7,200 unresolved complaints relate to 658 registered learning providers. It is not possible to list the 656 Individual Learning Account (ILA) providers as this information is treated as commercially sensitive.

The revised total complaints figure is some 17,100.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what responsibility her Department had to put the learndirect database into a form in which it could be used to accredit ILA providers; and when, and what, action has been taken to give effect to that responsibility. [49881]

John Healey [holding answer 15 April 2002]: The learndirect database holds details of over 500,000 learning opportunities. The intention is to work towards a comprehensive coverage of all UK learning opportunities. To have their course included on the database providers simply apply via the learndirect website. There is no charge for this service. Inclusion on the database does not imply endorsement, quality assurance or accreditation of providers or their provision and there are no plans to change this approach.

ILA providers were encouraged to list their courses on the learning opportunities website to ensure that Individual Learning Account holders could get information and advice about the learning that was available through learndirect. However, this did not constitute an ILA accreditation process. Full integration of the ILA and learndirect databases was not pursued because of the technical difficulties surrounding data incompatibility.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much money was claimed in total for individual learning account payments of more than £200 in the period from September 2000 to 20 October 2000; how many claims for ILAs in that period were for amounts (a) less than £200, (b) in the range £201 to £500, (c) in the range £501 to £1,000 and (d) above £1,000; how many providers submitted individual claims for more than £1,000; and if she will make a statement. [51960]

John Healey: Between September 2000 and 20 October 2000, Individual Learning Account discounts totalling £18,389,766.66 were paid to learning providers who had claimed a discount of more than £200 for a single account holder. A further breakdown is provided that, in addition, includes the number of payments made to learning providers who had claimed a discount of less than £200 for a single account holder.

RangeNumber of learning episodes
Less than £200 30,590
£200 to £5001,390
£501 to £1,0002,300
More than £1,0006,558

During the same period 164 learning providers submitted at least one claim of more than £1,000 for a single account holder.

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Following 20 October 2000 a number of appeals made in relation to the introduction of the cap on the per cent. discount were upheld. As a result, a further £3,459,209 was paid to learning providers.

Asylum Seekers (Education)

Jonathan Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the availability of appropriate teaching staff in the proposed accommodation centres. [52101]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: No such assessment has yet been made as the sites of the proposed accommodation centres have not been decided by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

Rural Bus Routes

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will examine the case for subsidising councils to fund rural bus routes to schools and to help families furthest from schools. [50922]

John Healey: I am aware of the increasing costs for home to school transport faced by councils in rural areas. We are considering these costs in working up a new local education authority funding system which will be introduced in 2003–04.

Pay Gap

Mr. Watts: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what progress the Government have made in closing the pay gap between teachers in schools and colleges. [51303]

Mr. Timms: Teachers in maintained schools are subject to national school teachers' pay and conditions. Further education sector colleges are run by independent corporations established under the Further Education and Higher Education Act 1992 and there is no national pay structure in place. Colleges are free to establish pay scales that meet their needs and can be agreed with their staff. This Government have acknowledged the historic funding gap between schools and FE and we have pledged to bring up levels of funding and ensure upward convergence over time. The Teaching Pay Initiative (TPI) budget is £311 million over the period 2001–04. This is to reward excellent teaching and is over and above any general pay rise. The additional investment we are making in the FE sector through normal core funding will also make an important contribution.

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