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6 Feb 2007 : Column 826W—continued

Kenya and Somalia Border

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has received on the Kenyan Government's decision to seal its border with Somalia. [111587]


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Mr. McCartney: We are aware of concerns about the possible impact on refugee flows of Kenya's decision to close its border with Somalia. We have raised this matter with the Kenyan authorities. While recognising Kenya's legitimate security concerns, we call on all states to comply with their international obligations to refugees.

Kuwait

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans she has to visit Kuwait. [118879]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has no immediate plans to visit Kuwait. The last ministerial visit to Kuwait was by me in November 2006.

Somalia

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with the Transitional Government in Somalia on future security and the possible role of African Union forces. [119195]

Mr. McCartney: My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, spoke to President Yusuf of the Transitional Federal Government in Addis Ababa on 26 January about security and the role of African Union forces in Somalia. Senior officials in the region also have frequent contact with the Transitional Federal Government representatives on these issues.

Sudan

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether she has made representations to Sudan on accusations of sexual abuse perpetrated by its soldiers against children in the south of the country. [112267]

Mr. McCartney: We are concerned by the incidence of sexual and physical abuse of children across Sudan reported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) earlier this month. We will continue to support UNICEF in its endeavours to tackle this issue with all elements of the Sudanese Government including the military. The UN-Government of Sudan task force to co-ordinate the fight against child abuse by military personnel and civilians, and follow up on allegations of exploitation, was established on 18 January. We will monitor its progress closely. We will also raise the fight against child abuse in Sudan with the UN special representative for children and armed conflict and UNICEF’s deputy executive director during their visit to Sudan at the end of January.

Uganda

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made to the Ugandan authorities in the case of the 19 members of the people’s redemption army in custody. [111057]


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Mr. McCartney: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock) today (UIN 111877).

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the political situation in Uganda. [111058]

Mr. McCartney: In February 2006 Uganda held its first multi-party elections in 25 years. The reintroduction of a multi-party system was an important achievement. However, there is still much to be done. It is essential that the Government and the Opposition parties continue to work together to embed the evolving multiparty democracy and ensure transparency. We have regular dialogue with the Ugandan authorities on these issues. My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, met President Museveni most recently on 20 November 2006. I also refer my hon. Friend to the Westminster Hall Adjournment debate on Northern Uganda held on 23 January 2007, Official Report, columns 442-50WH.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made to the Ugandan Government on its refusal to release People Redemption Army suspects who have been granted bail by courts in Uganda; and if she will make a statement. [111693]

Mr. McCartney: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him today (UIN 111877).

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of (a) respect for the constitution, (b) the independence of the judiciary, (c) the rule of law and (d) human rights in Uganda; what assessment she has made of the likely effect on stability in Uganda of the refusal of the authorities to release the 19 people’s redemption army suspects on bail; and if she will make a statement. [111877]

Mr. McCartney: We are closely following the situation regarding the continued detention of the 19 people’s redemption army suspects. The prison authorities were ordered to bring the individuals before the High Court on 25 January but the suspects were not produced. We are concerned about the implications of this on the independence of the judiciary and with regard to respect for human rights in Uganda. We call on all sides to abide by the constitution and to respect the rule of law.

Our High Commissioner in Kampala expressed our concerns about the continued custody of the 19 PRA detainees when he met Foreign Minister Kutesa on 23 January.

I also refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Buckingham (John Bercow) on 19 January 2007, Official Report, columns 1409-10W and to the Westminster Hall Adjournment debate on Northern Uganda held on 23 January 2007, Official Report, columns 442-50WH.


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United Nations

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions her Department has had with (a) fellow UN members and (b) UN officials on reform of the United Nations. [118959]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed a range of UN issues with Ban Ki-moon, the new UN Secretary-General, on 25 January. I and my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Foreign Secretary and other senior Cabinet members also discussed UN reform issues with Mr. Ban during his visit to London in December 2006. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials maintain regular dialogue with UN member states and officials on reform issues.

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with her US counterpart on reform of the UN. [118976]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not held recent discussions with Secretary Rice on reform of the UN. However Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials maintain close contact with US partners on the issue.

We share a common vision with the United States on the UN: we want to see continued momentum on reform of the organisation, to ensure it remains effective in addressing modern challenges of security, human rights and sustainable development.

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with her UN counterparts on the granting of permanent seats on the UN Security Council to other states. [118979]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not held recent discussions with her UN counterparts on reform of the UN Security Council. However, it is an issue that is raised with us regularly by UN partners.

Our position is well known: the UK supports expansion of both permanent and non-permanent membership of the Security Council, to make it more representative of today's world. We support the candidatures of Germany, Japan, India and Brazil for permanent seats on an enlarged Council, as well as permanent African representation. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister reiterated this, and called for renewed momentum to the debate on reform of the UN Security Council, in his speech at the world economic forum in Davos on 27 January.

Visas

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in how many visa application cases that were refused in the last 24 months the applicant has cited bad advice from British overseas missions. [118950]


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Dr. Howells: Reasons for refusals are explained to the applicant verbally and in writing. UKvisas do not keep central records regarding the grounds of appeal given by an applicant and this information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Western Sahara

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the UN on their future operations in the western Sahara; and whether there are plans for a referendum on the future political status of the western Sahara. [119194]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not made representations to the UN about its future operations in western Sahara.

The UK fully supports the efforts of the UN Secretary-General, and his personal envoy to western Sahara, Peter Van Walsum, to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of western Sahara.

On 31 October 2006, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted UN Security Council resolution 1720, which renewed the mandate for the UN Mission for the referendum in western Sahara until 30 April 2007. The Government supported this and will continue to encourage all parties to engage with the UN process. There are, however, no plans for a referendum to be held in the near future.

Education and Skills

14-19 Education

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what progress his Department has made towards the delivery of the 14-19 implementation plan. [112154]

Jim Knight: The Department has made substantial progress in delivering the objectives published in December 2005 in the 14-19 implementation plan. Delivery is on track with all three key priorities set out in the plan.

The first priority in the plan is putting a strong focus on improving the system now so that young people stay in learning and achieve. Here there have been substantial improvements in the numbers of young people achieving level 2 qualifications by the age of 19. This follows work on a joint action plan which we agreed with the Learning and Skills Council in response to a review by the Prime Minister’s delivery unit. The action has included identifying local areas for targeted action. The September guarantee of a learning place for year 11 leavers is already operating in many areas and will be universal by 2008. Many areas already have a prospectus covering all the learning opportunities for young people, and all areas will have this in place by 2008. The numbers of young people completing apprenticeships continue to rise, the latest figure for completion rates for apprenticeships now at around 53 per cent.


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The second priority in the plan is reforming the curriculum and qualifications available to 14-to 19-year-olds so that more young people are motivated and engaged in learning. Development of the new diplomas is on track: criteria for the first five diplomas were published in November 2006 and the qualifications are being developed for roll-out in September 2008. New standards for functional skills in English, maths and ICT have been developed and are being trialled around the country in preparation for a national pilot starting in September 2007. We have announced a new A* grade for A-level in order to put extra challenge into the qualification, and we are testing options for students to offer an extended project. There has also been substantial work by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority in reviewing the secondary curriculum at key stage 3 and 4, and revised programmes of study will shortly be going out for consultation. A new framework of personal, learning and thinking skills has been developed and will be embedded in the new qualifications. There are also trials under way for a new foundation learning tier, offering qualifications below level 2, and we are testing options for re-engaging 14-to 16-year-olds in learning.

The third priority is creating the infrastructure needed to deliver the new curriculum and qualifications in every area of England. Legislation is now in place for introduction of a new entitlement for young people to access the new diplomas in 2013. Three hundred and twenty four local consortia have submitted applications to offer the new diplomas in 2008 and their self-assessments will be considered by regional panels over the next month. We have secured additional funding to support local areas offering the diplomas—£50 million for work force development and £40 million for facilities. Seventy eight local areas have attended learning visits hosted by 14-19 pathfinder areas in order to learn how to deliver 14-19 provision effectively.

Isle of Sheppey Academy

Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many meetings of the shadow academy for the Isle of Sheppey there have been; and if he will publish the minutes of the meetings. [118269]

Jim Knight [holding answer 2 February 2007]: There have been seven meetings of the Isle of Sheppey academy project steering group since June 2006. The purpose of this group is to test the feasibility of the Academy proposals. The outcome will inform our subsequent decisions on whether to enter into a funding agreement with the academy trust, which would be established by the sponsors. It is not our practice to publish PSG minutes.

Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which company has been
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employed by the shadow academy group for the Isle of Sheppey to provide a valuation of the sites of the three middle schools. [118271]

Jim Knight [holding answer 2 February 2007]: Under our new model for delivering academy buildings, the responsibility for the design and subsequent construction of this proposed academy would rest with the local authority. Site valuations form part of this process. Glenny LLP have been employed by Kent county council from its existing approved supplier framework to provide these valuations.

Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what alternative plans have been developed for secondary schools on the Isle of Sheppey should the proposed Academy be turned down. [118274]

Jim Knight [holding answer 2 February 2007]: The provision of school places within its area is a matter for Kent county council.

Adoption

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) placement orders and (b) adoption orders were made in 2006. [117986]

Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 1 February 2007]: The number of placement orders made by courts in England and Wales for 1 January to 31 December 2006 was 1,434.

Statistical information on the total number of placement orders has been provided by the court service. These statistics have not yet been published.

The number of adoption orders made for all children by courts in England and Wales for 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2004 was 5,360 (latest figures available).

Statistical information on the total number of adoptions is included in the statistics series “Marriage, divorce and adoptions”, volume FM2, published by the Office for National Statistics. A copy of this publication is available in the House of Commons Library and on the ONS website at

A-levels

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the geography A-level attainment level was for (a) boys and (b) girls over the last 15 years. [112270]

Jim Knight: The information requested can be found in the following table.


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6 Feb 2007 : Column 834W
GCE A level entries and percentages achieving grade A-E in geography, in all schools and colleges from 1991/92 to 2005/06( 1)
Male Female Male and female
Number of entries Percentage achieving A-E Number of entries Percentage achieving A-E Number of entries Percentage achieving A-E

2005/06

15,525

98.5

12,758

99.2

28,283

98.8

2004/05

15,523

98.1

12,860

98.9

28,383

98.5

2003/04

16,471

98.0

13,435

98.8

29,906

98.3

2002/03

16,846

97.8

14,333

98.5

31,179

98.1

2001/02

17,001

96.8

14,066

98.2

31,067

97.5

2000/01

17,905

91.8

15,201

94.0

33,106

92.8

1999/2000

17,931

91.7

15,086

93.6

33,017

92.6

1998/99

20,127

91.8

16,927

93.3

37,054

92.5

1997/98

21,003

90.7

17,829

92.5

38,832

91.5

1996/97

20,864

88.6

17,115

90.9

37,979

89.6

1995/96

20,498

81.8

16,664

84.0

37,162

82.8

1994/95

21,346

80.2

17,331

82.4

38,677

81.2

1993/94

23,055

78.7

18,414

80.4

41,469

79.5

1992/93

23,371

79.2

18,303

80.5

41,674

79.8

1991/92

22,756

79.8

18,171

81.2

40,927

80.4

(1) Figures for 2005/06 are revised, all other figures are final.
Note:
Figures from 1995/96 include 16 to 18-year-olds (based on age at start of academic year) in all schools and colleges, figures prior to this include all students in all schools and colleges.

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