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Modern Apprenticeship Schemes

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what action she is taking to encourage young people to enter modern apprenticeship schemes. [63053]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Following the launch of new generation modern apprenticeships last November, a £16 million marketing campaign is under way, to be run over three years in England, to promote apprenticeships and boost participation. The first part of the campaign ran during March with a new television advertisement, aimed at young people. It generated over 100,000 phone and e-mail responses. A further round of TV advertising starts on 5 August.

In addition, a range of marketing measures is being introduced to reach not only young people, but also key influencers and employers. At the local level, learning and skills councils, connexions partnerships, careers services and other partners will work together to raise awareness of, and foster support for, modern apprenticeships; and to provide young people with essential information and advice on the opportunities available in their communities. It is a key role of the new sector skills councils in partnership with the LSC to ensure that employers continue to support MA and that they provide sufficient places to meet the demand from young people.

Construction Industry

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to improve the skills base of people entering the construction industry. [63054]

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Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), which is sponsored by my Department, is responsible for ensuring that the construction industry has an adequate supply of properly trained people to meet its needs. It is working on two broad fronts to improve the quality and number of recruits to the industry:

Children in Care

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what provision the Government have made to ensure children in care remain in the same educational institution until the age of 16 years. [63114]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government recognise that changes in care arrangements can disrupt the education of children who are looked after, and are determined to promote stability.

This Department, jointly with the Department of Health, issued guidance to all authorities in May 2000 on the education of children and young people in public care. The guidance emphasizes the importance of a stable care and education placement in order to promote educational success for children in public care. The Department of Health also set targets within the quality protects programme to promote stability and reduce placement moves.

Under S22(3) of the Children Act, local authorities have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children and young people who are looked after, education being a critical dimension of their welfare. It is for local authorities to decide on a case-by-case basis whether it is in the best interests of a child in public care to remain in the same educational establishment.

Criminal Records Checks

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many criminal records checks have been undertaken in respect of people applying to work in schools as (a) teachers, (b) governors and (c) volunteers in the current school year; and what has been the cost of checks in each category. [63159]

Mr. Miliband: The information requested is not available.


Rights of Way

Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress she is making on implementation of the rights of way provisions in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. [63475]

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Alun Michael: I am today publishing proposals to implement provisions in schedule 6 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act to enable the closure or diversion of rights of way where this is necessary for crime prevention or to promote pupil and teacher safety. These new powers will enable highway authorities to address the disruption caused by persistent criminal activity in back alleys, or gulleys, on housing estates.

As these important new powers are not regarded as a first response to tackling crime, we will designate areas where the new crime prevention powers will be available. Highway authorities will normally take the lead, working with local crime and disorder reduction partnerships, police authorities, local residents and user groups to formulate a submission to the Secretary of State advocating any area at ward level that may warrant inclusion in a designation order. In country areas, the district authority or the local crime and disorder reduction partnership may be able to make a submission if the county is unwilling to do so.

The new schools provisions will enable a highway authority to close or divert a right of way, where it crosses school land, for the purpose of protecting pupils or staff from violence or other risks to their health and safety. These provisions are not subject to the designation process and will be available throughout England.

I am also publishing proposals to implement section 63 of the Act. These new provisions will ensure that members of the public have a means to compel highway authorities to use their powers to remove certain types of obstruction.

Highway authorities already have specific powers to deal with obstructions and recover costs from the persons concerned. These new provisions will empower the public to directly influence the action taken by authorities in dealing with obstructions.

The public will be able to initiate action in relation to the majority of obstructions that cause difficulties for rights of way users, such as fences, overhanging vegetation and barbed wire. We are inviting views on any other forms of obstruction that should be covered by the provisions.

Copies of "Crime Prevention on Rights of Way: Public Consultation paper on the Designation of Areas and Other Procedural Matters", "Enforcement of highway authorities duty to prevent obstructions on rights of way: Consultation Paper on the implementation of section 63 of Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000" have been placed in the Library of the House. Views are invited by 20 September 2002.

Energy Efficiency

Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made by each energy conservation authority in improving the energy efficiency of the domestic housing stock in its area. [63660]

Margaret Beckett: Data reported by energy conservation authorities in England under the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 in the period 1 April 1996 to 31 March 2001 have been placed in the Libraries of the House. These data have also been published on the

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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' website, at address energy/heca95/index.htm. Authorities have reported an overall improvement in domestic energy efficiency of 8.12 per cent., as measured against a 1996 baseline.

Performance Targets

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment she has made of whether the PSA target for 2001–02 for improvement in response time for all letters from hon. Members will be met. [47273]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 10 April 2002]: The DEFRA service target is 15 working days. The Department suffered severe disruption last year due to allocating top priority to defeating the foot and mouth epidemic. Furthermore, the sheer volume of correspondence received following the creation of DEFRA had a major impact on the Department's performance, resulting in a large backlog of letters. We have devoted more resources to clearing the backlog and we are making progress in improving response times.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what has been the (a) cost and (b) saving from the pursuit of the Department's public service agreement targets in each year since they were introduced; [61041]

Mr. Morley: The Department's public service agreement sets out the key outcomes it is committed to deliver with the resources provided, and its service delivery agreement sets out the key steps towards delivery of those targets. Every year the Department publishes performance against its targets—including on value for money—and the resources it has used, in its departmental report.

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