Diplomatic Bags

Mr Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many investigations of inappropriate use of diplomatic bags his Department has undertaken since 1982. [124950]

Mr Lidington: The diplomatic bag is governed by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and we maintain strict control over its use. There are long-established rules on prohibited items, and we would regard any misuse of the bag as a serious matter. We would investigate fully any suggestion of misuse.

A comprehensive search of all relevant information from 1982 could be achieved only at disproportionate cost. If anyone shares with us specific concerns or information related to possible misuse of the diplomatic bag, we would carry out an investigation.

EU Budget

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has held with his EU counterparts on the multiannual financial framework. [125926]

Mr Lidington: I refer my hon. Friend to my response to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton North East (Emma Reynolds) of 29 October 2012, Official Report, column 21W.

EU Staff

Mr Kennedy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the oral answer to the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, of 22 October 2012, Official Report, column 707, how many UK citizens are currently employed by the European Commission (EC); what that figure is as a proportion of all EC employees; what the equivalent figures were in October 2010; and if he will make a statement. [125398]

Mr Lidington: The Commission's latest figures, from 1 October, show that of the Commission's 23,794 staff, 4.7% are British—a total of 1,116 people.

30 Oct 2012 : Column 176W

In October 2010, of 25,090 Commission staff, 5% were British—a total of 1,256 people.

This drop in the number of British officials, a result of the retirements of the large tranche of staff taken on in 1973, on British accession to the EU, is exactly what this Government have predicted and is why we are taking action to remedy this potentially damaging situation.

The action we have taken has, in just two years from 2010-12, resulted in a 30% increase in British applicants to the main EU graduate recruitment. But this is a serious, long-term problem, and we must sustain and increase these efforts if we are to rectify this situation. We will continue to monitor and promote all options, including opportunities for permanent and temporary staff, and seconded UK civil servants.

Trade Promotion

Margaret Curran: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many events have been held at British embassies or consulates to promote Scottish businesses in the last three years; and which businesses were represented at such events. [Official Report, 5 November 2012, Vol. 552, c. 3MC.] [125598]

Mr Swire: Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) officials meet UK businesses seeking to export regularly. These interactions occur in a wide variety of circumstances, and it is therefore not possible to assess accurately the total number of meetings that have taken place over the past three years.

Our Charter for Business sets out how the FCO supports UK business overseas and how the FCO is working to help deliver success for the UK's economy. We are supporting and promoting businesses across the UK, and do not differentiate on where they are based. UKTI also has a vital role to play in supporting British business. UKTI helped 25,450 businesses in 2011-12, 90% of them SMEs. UKTI trade support generated over £30 billion of additional sales for its clients—this support helped firms create 36,400 new jobs and secure a further 68,500.

British companies can make full use of UKTI's trade services, including the resources provided by UKTI offices overseas. Additionally, where appropriate, the Scottish Government's trade and investment arm, Scottish Development International, is also available.

As examples, in 2011-12:

172 grants were provided to Scottish firms through support under UKTI's Tradeshow Access programme.

310 reports were commissioned on behalf of Scottish firms through overseas posts under UKTI's Overseas Market Introduction Services.

Three research projects were offered to Scottish firms under UKTI's Export Marketing Research scheme.

Four Scottish missions to India, Brazil, Qatar and China (a total of 34 companies) were supported under UKTI's Market Visit Support programme.

Our diplomatic, consular and UKTI network is one of the largest and most respected in the world, with around 270 diplomatic posts in 170 countries, employing 14,000 staff. This delivers real benefits to Scottish people and businesses at home and overseas.

30 Oct 2012 : Column 177W

UK Market Share

Mr Robin Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress his Department has made in promoting the expansion of UK market share in the fastest-growing economies; and if he will make a statement. [125211]

Mr Swire: We are determined to increase exports and expand Britain’s market share in the fastest- growing economies. We are opening up to 19 new posts; redeploying 300 staff in 20 countries and devoting £4.5 million in programme funds to support our objectives.

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), the joint FCO-BIS trade promotion department, is concentrating on 20 emerging and high growth markets including Brazil, Russia, India and China, and it is increasing the proportion of its global resource committed to these markets from 40% to 50%. UK exports to these markets are growing strongly. For example, between 2010 and 2011, exports to Brazil were up by 18%; to Russia, by 37.9%; to India, by 34.3%; and to China, by 21.3%. In total, exports of goods and services to the BRIC nations alone increased by 27.6% over this period, from £25 billion in 2010 to £32 billion in 2011.

54% of companies supported by UKTI are already in at least one of these 20 priority markets, with a further 32% reporting they are likely to enter one of these markets in the next two years, and we are on target to achieve a doubling of exports to almost all of these priority markets by 2015.

We are also making a major new effort across Government to engage with business and Government leaders, to promote the expansion of market share in these markets. We raise awareness among UK businesses of the opportunities available, through outreach activity. We tackle the barriers to success, campaigning on our most important commercial priorities, and moving resources to these fast-growing economies to respond to business demand. Practical on the ground initiatives include the UKTI-directed Asia Task Force which has run 36 events since 2009, attracting almost 4,000 business people—a quarter of whom were not at the time exporting to Asia.

Home Department

Armed Conflict: Anniversaries

Mr Hanson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance she has issued to police authorities on the policing of Remembrance services in 2012. [125827]

Damian Green: The policing of Remembrance services is an operational matter for the police.

Asylum

Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were granted asylum or humanitarian protection by the UK in the third quarter of 2012 following a previously unsuccessful claim and (a) forcible removal or (b) voluntary return from the UK, by nationality. [125077]

30 Oct 2012 : Column 178W

Mr Harper [holding answer 26 October 2012]:The data requested is not held in a format compatible with National Statistics protocols.

However, data on the number of applications granted asylum and humanitarian protection are published on an annual and quarterly basis. Latest figures are available in Table “as.01” and “as.01.q” of the release Immigration Statistics, April to June 2012 Second edition, available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office Science website at:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/immigration-asylum-research/immigration-q2-2012/

Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether she plans to abolish the Case Assurance and Audit Unit in April 2013; and what steps she plans to take to deal with outstanding cases. [125119]

Mr Harper: As stated by Rob Whiteman at the Home Affairs Select Committee on 18 September 2012 the Controlled Archive will be closed by the end of December this year.

Following the closure of the Controlled Archive, the work of the Case Assurance and Audit Unit will be reviewed, all remaining live cases will be absorbed into the Complex Casework Directorate which is currently being developed by the UK Border Agency.

Billing

John Woodcock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average time taken by her Department to settle invoices to external suppliers or contractors was in each of the last three financial years. [125318]

James Brokenshire: The average time that the Home Department has taken to settle invoices with external contractors is detailed in the table:

Financial yearAverage days to settle

2010-11

7.7

2011-11

6.4

2012-13

5.3

Cleaning Services

Dan Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will make it her policy to require all cleaning contracts held with her Department to stipulate that the cleaning products used and their ingredients should not have been tested on animals. [124715]

James Brokenshire: The Home Office does not generally contract directly for cleaning services, but procures them through wider facilities management (FM). Typically contracts between the Home Office and FM contracts stipulate that the suppliers should consider environmentally preferable products and materials. Our key suppliers have confirmed that they only use cleaning products or ingredients tested on animals if required to meet legal requirements. Consultations with interested parties on the implementation of the coalition's agreement to end the use of animals in the testing of household products are continuing.

30 Oct 2012 : Column 179W

Cybercrime

Mr Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent (a) bilateral and (b) multilateral discussions she has had with her international counterparts on cybercrime. [125906]

James Brokenshire: Home Office Ministers have meetings with a wide variety of partners, as well as organisations and individuals in the public and private sectors, as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such meetings.

Deportation: Offenders

Charlie Elphicke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many foreign criminals needed an escort on a flight between January (a) 2011 and (b) 2012. [125408]

Mr Harper: The number of foreign national offenders who needed an escort when removed from the UK is not available from published statistics and is not collated centrally. The information could be obtained by examination of individual case files only at disproportionate cost.

The UK Border Agency assesses the need for escorts according to the individual circumstances of the case. The majority of individuals removed from the UK do not require escorts due to their level of compliance with the removal process.

Disasters

Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of the people who attended COBR meetings in the last year had completed a course at the National Emergency Planning Centre. [125574]

James Brokenshire: We do not hold this information. We do not maintain a register of courses completed by people attending COBR.

Drugs: Crime

Nick de Bois: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what definition of a drug dealer is used in (a) her Department and (b) its associated public bodies. [125448]

Mr Jeremy Browne [holding answer 29 October 2012]: Although no one definition of 'drug dealer' is used routinely by the Home Office or its associated public bodies, the Secretary of State considers that drug dealing is a form of drug ‘supply’. Statutory provisions relating to drug supply are found in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and connected secondary legislation. Of most relevance are Sections 4 and 5 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which provide for the restriction of the production, supply, and possession with intent to supply of controlled drugs.

Drugs: Misuse

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many new psychoactive substances have been subject to a temporary banning order to date. [122209]

30 Oct 2012 : Column 180W

Mr Jeremy Browne [holding answer 15 October 2012]: The Government placed methoxetamine under a temporary class drug order in the UK on 5 April 2012, following consultation with the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. Methoxetamine is the first and only temporary class drug in the UK so far.

Entry Clearances: Balkans

Stephen Phillips: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps she is taking to monitor the effects of visa liberalisation for Western Balkan countries; and if she will make a statement. [125248]

Mr Harper: The abuse that followed Schengen visa liberalisation with the Western Balkans in 2009 and 2010 remains an issue of great concern to the UK. The UK continues to monitor the impact of the visa liberalisation agreements, and to support the measures introduced by member states to combat abuse; which is notably unfounded asylum claims and illegal immigration.

The United Kingdom will not adopt or implement any of the changes that followed the EU decision on visa liberalisation with the Western Balkans.

Immigration Controls

Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reason she changed the immigration rule on settlement of overseas nationals from 14 years to 20 years. [125120]

Mr Harper: The 14-year long residence rule allowed those who did not have leave to remain in the UK but who had nevertheless been continuously resident here for 14 years to apply for settlement. This rule was deleted on 9 July 2012 because it is not appropriate that illegal migrants should be able to gain immediate settlement upon applying for it, whereas migrants who have followed the immigration rules will have served a probationary period.

The route to settlement after 14 years' continuous residence has been replaced by a new route for those wishing to make an application for leave to remain in the UK on the basis of the right to respect for private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Under the new Immigration Rules, at least 20 years' continuous residence in the UK, lawfully or unlawfully, will generally be required before a person can apply to start a 10-year route to settlement in the UK on the basis of the Article 8 right to respect for private life.

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made on the introduction of exit checks at airports. [125365]

Mr Harper: The Government have committed to the reintroduction of exit checks by March 2015. We are currently exploring options around how future exit checks may operate, and how the e-Borders system can support this.

e-Borders enables us to target the most harmful individuals and supports our ability to undertake effective exit checks as passengers leave the UK. The system is already screening electronically over 60% of outgoing passenger and crew movements, and we are committed to further enhancing its capabilities.

30 Oct 2012 : Column 181W

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 15 October 2012, Official Report, column 100W, on immigration controls, what estimate she has made of the number of people required to be employed at the clearance process at UK airports to scan each type of passport. [125490]

Mr Harper: Border Force operates a flexible workforce model based around multi-skilled officers who operate in different locations. The duties of Border Force officers can range between the clearance of EU or non EU passengers at the UK border to the detection of goods at UK ports depending on expected demand. No estimate has been made of the number of people required to be employed at the clearance process at UK airports to scan each type of passport.

Metropolitan Police

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there were in each basic command unit of the Metropolitan Police force on 31 March (a) 2010, (b) 2011 and (c) 2012. [125475]

Damian Green: Figures were collected by the Home Office for the number of police officers in each London borough of the Metropolitan Police Service on 31 March 2010 and 31 March 2011 and are given in the following table. Figures at London borough level ceased to be collected from 2011-12.

Number of police officers in each London borough of the Metropolitan Police force on 31 March 2010 and 31 March 2011(1,2)
 31 March 201031 March 2011

Barking and Dagenham

448

443

Barnet

596

585

Bexley

406

400

Brent

712

682

Bromley

524

511

Camden

889

831

City of Westminster

1,656

1,586

Croydon

755

736

Ealing

728

697

Enfield

601

580

Greenwich

711

669

Hackney

784

771

Hammersmith and Fulham

600

574

Haringey

734

708

Harrow

404

392

Havering

395

387

Heathrow

461

435

Hillingdon

526

540

Hounslow

540

522

Islington

719

713

Kensington and Chelsea

579

565

Kingston upon Thames

337

321

Lambeth

1,042

1,004

Lewisham

691

657

Merton

396

392

Newham

826

805

Redbridge

502

486

Richmond upon Thames

335

307

Southwark

964

933

Sutton

356

344

30 Oct 2012 : Column 182W

Tower Hamlets

829

793

Waltham Forest

578

556

Wandsworth

619

608

(1) These figures are based on full-time equivalents that have been rounded to the nearest whole number. (2) Figures include those officers on career breaks or maternity/paternity leave.

Organised Crime

Mr Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment her Department has made of the level of crime related to gang activity in (a) Coventry local authority area, (b) the West Midlands and (c) England. [125905]

Mr Jeremy Browne: The Secretary of State has not made an assessment of the level of crime related to gang activity in Coventry, West Midlands or England. This is an operational matter for the West Midlands police and other local partners. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has conducted an exercise to map gangs and gang violence in selected forces across the country to provide for the first time a national picture based on a single definition and approach.

Public Order: Arrests

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate she has made of the number of people who have been arrested or charged with an offence under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 since 14 January 2012. [125491]

Damian Green: The Home Office has made no estimate of the number of arrests or charges for these offences.

Data on arrests are reported to the Home Office on the basis of aggregated offence groupings, for example violence against the person and sexual offences. From these centrally reported groupings, it is not possible to separately identify arrests for specific offences.

Data on charges are not held centrally by the Home Office.

Redundancy

Mike Freer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much her Department spent on (a) recruitment agency fees, (b) outplacement agency fees for displaced or redundant staff and (c) staff training in the last 12 months. [124733]

James Brokenshire: The Home Department spent £2.8 million on recruitment agency fees between 1 October 2011 and 30 September 2012.

The Home Department does not hold contracts with outplacement agencies for services for displaced or redundant staff.

The Home Department, inclusive of its executive agencies, spent £14.3 million on staff training for the financial year 2011-12.

30 Oct 2012 : Column 183W

Sickness Absence

Mike Freer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many days on average her Department's staff in each pay grade were absent from work due to ill health in the last 12 months. [124732]

James Brokenshire: Table l includes the average working days lost to sickness absence for each pay grade in the Home Department in the year 1 October 2011 to 30 September 2012. Figures include Home Office Headquarters as well as the Department's Executive Agencies—United Kingdom Border Agency, Identity and Passport Service, Criminal Records Bureau and National Fraud Authority.

Table 1: Average working days lost by grade October 2011 to September 2012
GradeAverage working days lost (days)(1)

AA

10.35

AO

9.76

EO

8.04

HEO

5.67

SEO

4.93

Grade 7

3.91

Grade 6

3.01

SCS

2.84

Total

7.68

(1) Figures given are based on paid civil servants only and include current employees and those who left the Home Office during the period, in line with Cabinet Office reporting guidelines. Figures include Home Office Headquarters, the United Kingdom Border Agency, Identity and Passport Service, Criminal Records Bureau and National Fraud Authority. Note: Prior to February 2011 responses to requests for information relating to the "Home Department" included information for headquarters staff only—Executive Agencies were excluded from reported figures. Since February 2011 the Department has streamlined its reporting practices and departmental figures now include both Headquarters and all Executive Agencies. This means that it is not possible to make a direct comparison. Extract Date: 1 October 2012 (Figures based on period from 1 October 2011 to 31 September 2012). Source: Permanent Secretaries Management Group Cabinet Office return, Quarter 3 2012

UK Border Agency

Sheila Gilmore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the UK Border Agency's target is for the time taken to process postal applications by Romanian and Bulgarian nationals for registration certificates and accession worker cards; and what the average time taken is. [125085]

Mr Harper [holding answer 29 October 2012]: For 2012-13, the UK Border Agency's target for processing postal applications by Romanian and Bulgarian nationals for registration certificates and accession worker cards is to decide 99% of applications within six months. For the period April to June 2012, the latest period for which published data is available, 98% of Romanian and Bulgarian applications were decided within six months of being registered on the UK Border Agency database. The UK Border Agency does not maintain any published data in respect of the average length of time it takes to process a postal Romanian and Bulgarian application.

Work Permits: Shipping

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) pursuant to the answer of 17 July 2012, Official Report, column 670W, on work

30 Oct 2012 : Column 184W

permits, whether a vessel working on routes between

(a)

UK ports and the Channel Islands and

(b)

UK ports and France is classed as working wholly or largely within UK waters; [125096]

(2) whether domestic work permit legislation applies to a non-EEA seafarer taking up work on a vessel flying a flag of convenience working on routes between (a) UK ports and the Channel Islands and (b) UK ports and France. [125097]

Mr Harper: Work permits are not required by non-European economic area crew members of vessels working routes between UK ports and Channel Island ports, or between UK ports and French ports, irrespective of the flags under which the vessels are operating. Such seamen are not classed as working wholly or largely within UK waters.

Children: Abuse

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent steps her Department has taken to ensure the protection of children from abuse resulting from either witchcraft branding or accusations of possession by evil spirits; and if she will make a statement. [124939]

Mr Timpson: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Department of Education.

In February 2011, Ministers held a meeting with AFRUCA, the Victoria Climbié Foundation, the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service, Trust for London, the Congolese Family Centre, the Metropolitan police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the London Safeguarding Children Board to discuss the child abuse relating to a belief in witchcraft and spirit possession; and to explore how the Government could work with local authorities, voluntary and community organisations and people in local areas to tackle it.

The Government created the National Working Group to Tackle Abuse Linked to Faith or Belief, in order to develop practical solutions to raise awareness, develop the skills of practitioners and support local communities to tackle such abuse. The Group decided that this could most effectively be delivered by means of an action plan, setting out the problems and solutions/actions, which members could realistically take forward.

The “Empowering Practitioners” strand of the plan aims to help those on the frontline in safeguarding and wider services to be better equipped to understand and respond well to situations where abuse linked to faith or belief is anticipated or occurs. We hope with understanding of this type of abuse that practitioners should have confidence in carrying out their responsibilities in the context of different belief systems. This should help to improve assessments and interventions. Local Safeguarding Children Boards provide strategic leadership for safeguarding children in any area. We have identified that they and their partners from local authority children's services and from the police have played a key role in some areas of the country. In particular, the Metropolitan police have issued specific advice to their officers on this type of abuse.

The Working Group meets on a regular basis to report and review the progress of the members have made in implementing the action plan. It last met on 24 October 2012.

30 Oct 2012 : Column 185W

Business, Innovation and Skills

Business: Billing

Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will bring forward plans to speed up payment owed to small- and medium-sized enterprises by large companies; and if he will make a statement. [125380]

Michael Fallon: The Government are determined to do everything we can to help businesses manage cash flow and to transform the culture of late payment.

We are working with industry to encourage their members to sign up to the prompt payment code. We have also been working with business representatives on a variety of ways to help businesses manage cash flow and transform the culture of late payment, including through more efficient payment processes.

To ensure that the benefits of prompt payment by Government to its main contractors benefits smaller businesses further down the supply chain, all Departments have included a clause in their contracts that requires main contractors to pay their suppliers within 30 days.

The Government are also helping small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) access affordable working capital through the Prime Minister's Supply Chain Finance Partnership with many of the largest UK businesses, and through the £100 million small business tranche of the Business Finance Partnership.

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many firms signed up to the prompt payment code in (a) 2009, (b) 2010, (c) 2011 and (d) 2012 to date, by size of business. [125439]

Michael Fallon [holding answer 29 October 2012]: The Prompt Payment Code is administered on a day-to-day basis by the Institute of Credit Management; they have provided the following annual breakdown of new signatories:

2009: 683 new signatories (first year of the Prompt Payment Code)

2010: 295 new signatories (total number of signatories: 978)

2011: 89 new signatories (total number of signatories: 1,067)

2012: 115 new signatories (to 24 October; total number of signatories: 1,182).

The ICM does not collect details of the size of businesses when companies apply to sign up to the Prompt Payment Code.

The Government fully support the Prompt Payment Code. I am considering further measures to encourage businesses to sign up.

Business: Government Assistance

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what the total cost to the public purse of the Growth Accelerator scheme has been since its launch. [125822]

Michael Fallon: The Growth Accelerator programme was launched on 23 May; the cost of the contract to the public purse since signature in January is £23,909,200 inc VAT.

30 Oct 2012 : Column 186W

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer of 18 September 2012, Official Report, column 630W, on the Growth Accelerator Service, if he will provide a list, by region, of (a) those firms currently taking part in the growth accelerator programme, (b) those firms not found to be suitable and (c) those firms still in the process of being assessed for the programme and located by region. [125823]

Michael Fallon: The numbers of companies involved in the Growth Accelerator programme by area, as of 26 October, is set out in the following table. Although Growth Accelerator is delivered on a national basis, there is lead contractor in each of four different areas of England; we have therefore set out the data requested against these delivery areas.

AreaLead contractorCurrently taking partNot found to be suitableStill being assessed

London and Hertfordshire

Grant Thornton

171

130

296

Southwest and Southeast

Oxford Innovation

308

113

363

Midlands

Pera

396

122

373

North

Winning Pitch

376

65

441

 

Total

1251

430

1473

In addition to this, there are a further 828 companies who have been judge suitable for Growth Accelerator but who are not yet taking part in the programme (some of these may still chose not to join it).

Business: Loans

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment his Department has made of the progress made by banks to deliver on the Business Finance Taskforce pledge of October 2010 (a) to enhance the cross-industry lending dataset by broadening the statistics on lending available for wider bands of business activity, (b) on lending to deprived areas and (c) on national and regional data on the provision of bank support to business start-ups. [124963]

Michael Fallon [holding answer 26 October 2012]: The British Bankers' Association (BBA) website now hosts an enhanced industry dataset with lending broken down by region and sector. The most recent data were published on 19 October 2012 at:

http://www.bba.org.uk/statistics/small-business

The BBA website also provides data on lending to deprived areas up to 2010. Following the Taskforce agreement the BBA committed to an updated and more consistent dataset, and the publication of post-code level data, which will allow comparison with a variety of deprivation indices. The precision of these data make their disclosure commercially sensitive and so their publication schedule will be annual, commencing later this year.

High street banks provide information on start-up numbers broken down by various demographics to a commercial data service BankSearch Consultancy:

http://www.banksearch-consultancy.com

30 Oct 2012 : Column 187W

Cleaning Services

Dan Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will make it his policy to require all cleaning contracts held by his Department to stipulate that the cleaning products used and their ingredients should not have been tested on animals. [125010]

Jo Swinson: The Department outsources its cleaning contract as part of a Total Facilities Management package using a Government Procurement Framework which promotes best practice.

The supplier has confirmed that the cleaning products used on the contract have not been tested on animals.

Employee Ownership Scheme

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills with reference to the employee ownership scheme announced on 8 October 2012, what guidance he expects existing employees in firms will receive when deciding whether or not to move to an employee owner contract; and what steps he will take to ensure such guidance is offered. [123885]

Jo Swinson [holding answer 19 October 2012]: We are currently consulting on how the scheme will be implemented and how it will work in practice. We are seeking views on the level of advice and guidance that individuals and companies might need to be fully aware of the implications of taking on employee owner status. The consultation closes on 8 November.

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what estimate he has made of how many (a) businesses and (b) employees will participate in the employee ownership scheme announced on 8 October 2012. [123886]

Jo Swinson [holding answer 19 October 2012]: We are currently consulting on how the scheme will be implemented and how it will work in practice. The consultation closes on 8 November and the responses to the consultation will inform the scheme's design.

Until this process is finished we are unable to provide an estimate of how many businesses and employees will participate in the scheme.

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills with reference to the employee ownership scheme announced on 8 October 2012, what estimate he has made of the (a) proportion and (b) total number of employees making use of the scheme who are expected to make a capital gain over and above the Annual Exempt Amount. [123887]

Jo Swinson [holding answer 19 October 2012]: We are currently consulting on how the scheme will be implemented and how it will work in practice. The consultation closes on 8 November and the responses to the consultation will inform the scheme's design.

Until this process is finished we are unable to provide an estimate of the proportion and total number of employees making use of the scheme, who are expected to make a capital gain over and above the Annual Exempt Amount.

30 Oct 2012 : Column 188W

Employment: Advisory Services

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what access routes are available to provide advice regarding employment rights and employment law. [124060]

Jo Swinson [holding answer 22 October 2012]: Guidance on employment rights and law is provided online on the single government website—GOV.UK:

www.gov.uk

The Pay and Work Rights helpline provides advice and guidance on employment rights and law to everyone and is contactable by telephone and online inquiry form.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills sponsors The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) which provides guidance, best practice and advice on employment rights and law to employers and workers through its helpline. The helpline provides employers, employees and their representatives with advice designed to help them avoid or resolve disputes in the workplace.

Green Investment Bank

Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether he has plans to privatise the Green Investment Bank once it is operational; and if he will make a statement. [125320]

Michael Fallon: Having recently obtained state aid approval from the European Commission, the UK Green Investment Bank will become fully operational soon. The Government have no plans to privatise the bank.

Nuclear Power

John Woodcock: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the existence of any skills gaps in relation to future expansion of civil nuclear power; and what plans he has to address such gaps. [125092]

Matthew Hancock: Working with the Department of Energy and Climate Change we have established the Nuclear Energy Skills Alliance (NESA). This comprises two key Sector Skills Councils Cogent and Semta and two Industry Training Boards, the Construction Industry Training Board and the Engineering Construction Training Board. NESA is chaired by the National Skills Academy for Nuclear (NSAN). Its remit is to identify the current and future skills needs to support the nuclear programme in the UK and to work in collaboration to provide solutions which will maximise opportunities for job creation. A key task for NESA will be to work with operators delivering new nuclear capacity to provide a model of the likely future demand for skills, a first iteration of which will be available in early 2013.

In advance of that we are taking action to tackle known skills issues. Through the Growth and Innovation Fund the Government is supporting NSAN to support growth in the sector through the development of a National Nuclear Gateway to increase the pool of skilled resource available in the sector. The first round of the of the Employer Ownership of Skills pilot has approved,

30 Oct 2012 : Column 189W

in principal, funding for Doosan to develop high integrity welders and to Laing O'Rourke to support activity, including work with Bridgewater and Gateshead colleges, to train construction supervisors and steel fixers for the nuclear programme. In addition, a bid from the University of Sheffield for the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre has been selected for access to the Regional Growth Fund. The project includes a significant nuclear supplier training and development programme.

Overseas Trade: China

Ian Paisley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to his answer of 11 September 2012, Official Report, column 213W, on India and China, how many of the full-time equivalent staff employed in China are directly engaged in delivering trade between China and Northern Ireland. [125481]

Michael Fallon: There are 97 full-time equivalent UKTI staff in China who deal with trade and investment. These staff handle trade and investment related issues relating to all parts of the UK including Northern Ireland. There is no specific allocation of staff to any one part of the UK. They do however co-operate closely with Invest Northern Ireland both in market as well as in the UK.

Post Offices

Anne Marie Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether he plans to expand the range of Government services available at post offices in England. [125414]

Jo Swinson: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 10 September 2012, Official Report, column 107W. This Department has made a significant financial commitment of £1.34 billion over the current spending period to sustain and modernise the Post Office network, helping to ensure it can meet the future requirements of its customers, and has made an additional commitment that there will be no programme of closures.

Alongside these commitments, Post Office Ltd has set out its ambition to provide more services on behalf of central and local government. Recognising that the company operates commercially at arm's length from Government, we have been absolutely clear that we support Post Office Ltd in their ambition. The Department or Agency responsible for a particular service will decide how best to deliver that service and Government must, of course, procure its services from other providers in line with EU procurement regulations.

Over the last year Post Office Ltd has won a number of competitive contracts including the collection of digital data for UK Borders Agency Biometric Residence Permits and has also signed deals with Westminster City and Hammersmith and Fulham councils to allow residents to pay for council services at their local post office. Post Office Ltd is continuing to refine and develop its service offering to compete for more business in the future. The hon. Member will be interested to note that during 2011-12, Post Office Ltd's revenue from Government services grew for the first time in many years.

30 Oct 2012 : Column 190W

Secondment

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many civil servants from his Department and its predecessors undertook secondments to companies in the UK in each year since 2005. [125820]

Jo Swinson: The following table shows secondments to all organisations undertaken by civil servants from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and its predecessors since 2005.

BIS (and its predecessors) staff on secondment out of the Department 2005-September 2012
Where toStart dateEnd date

UNIDROIT

3 January 2005

17 March 2006

Global Training and Education Partnership

17 January 2005

16 January 2006

Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group

31 January 2005

31 January 2007

Fire Industry Confederation

1 March 2005

28 February 2006

SEEDA

9 March 2005

31 August 2006

Competition Commission

4 April 2005

3 April 2007

Building Research Establishment

13 April 2005

31 March 2008

Royal Household

3 May 2005

2 May 2007

AMEC

9 May 2005

5 May 2006

SEEDA

20 June 2005

19 June 2007

Palace of Westminster

20 June 2005

31 January 2006

Association of British Healthcare Industries

1 July 2005

30 June 2007

Sector Skills Development Agency

4 July 2005

31 March 2006

Rolls Royce

4 July 2005

3 January 2006

University of Newcastle upon Tyne

1 September 2005

30 November 2007

Industry Leadership Team

3 October 2005

3 May 2007

International Financial Service

4 November 2005

3 May 2006

Optimum-web Ltd

23 January 2006

31 March2007

Cable and Wireless

30 January 2006

31 July 2007

SETNET

6 March 2006

28 February 2008

London Development Agency

13 March 2006

12 March 2007

UKAS

29 May 2006

31 March 2008

Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry

26 June 2006

31 December 2006

National Policing Improvement Agency

1 April 2011

31 December 2012

Unknown

28 February 2011

18 October 2011

Unknown

28 February 2011

1 September 2011

Unknown

24 July 2011

25 July 2012

DSTL

23 August 2011

31 March 2012

EADS Astrium

31 August 2011

1 January 2013

Tesco

1 February 2011

1 November 2011

Scottish Executive

4 July 2011

30 May 2013

Unknown

6 December 2010

17 September 2011

Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council

25 March 2012

1 November 2012

AEA Technology

31 March 2012

16 October 2012

Treasury Solicitor's Department

7 February 2012

8 February 2014

Ofcom

14 June 2012

12 December 2014

Westminster City Council

13 March 2012

1 November 2012

Unknown

18 January 2012

10 September 2012

Unknown

18 January 2012

10 September 2012

Unknown

18 January 2012

26 October 2012

European Commission

9 October 2011

2 October 2012

LOCOG

18 January 2012

11 September 2012

MRC

18 January 2012

26 October 2012

FTI Consulting

30 April 2012

10 January 2014

30 Oct 2012 : Column 191W

EBRD

30 April 2012

19 July 2012

Prince's Trust

30 April 2012

1 September 2012

Higher Ed Funding Council for England

30 April 2012

31 July 2013

BBC

8 March 2012

25 July 2012

Scottish Executive

30 April 2012

30 May 2013

Technology Strategy Board

30 April 2012

4 October 2013

National Audit Office

30 April 2012

1 November 2013

PA Consulting

30 April 2012

28 February 2014

European Commission

24 June 12

7 July 12

Leeds County Council

9 July 2012

8 July 2014

DOH/Monitor

15 July 2012

12 July 2013

European Union

31 August 2012

1 September 2014

LOCOG

2 September 2012

3 September 2013

Where the location is shown as 'unknown' this is because the relevant details have not been added to the HR system in all cases. The information will be held with the individual business units but to obtain this we would need to identify and contact each line manager. This would involve disproportionate cost.

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills by what mechanisms secondments to business and industry from his Department are arranged. [125821]

Jo Swinson: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) encourages staff to undertake secondments in order to broaden their experience and enhance their skills. Secondments may be arranged by an individual on completion of a short business case to be approved by a senior manager, or they may arise as a result of a request from a company. Where a company requests a secondee, BIS will advertise the opportunity to staff who apply and are selected, usually by the company. Secondments may last from a few months to a maximum of five years.

Shipping: Conditions of Employment

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether all crew regardless of nationality who are working on a UK-registered ship on routes between UK ports and (a) the Channel Islands and (b) France are subject to UK employment law. [125433]

Jo Swinson: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 29 October 2012, Official Report, column 116W.

Sickness Absence

Mike Freer: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills on how many days on average staff of his Department in each pay grade were absent from work as a result of ill health in each of the last 12 months. [125666]

Jo Swinson: The following table shows how many days, on average, staff in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills(1) were absent from work as result of ill health in the last 12 months. The data is split by grade and broken down by month.

30 Oct 2012 : Column 192W

MonthGradeTotal(2)

2011

  

October

AA

2.5


AO

0.8


EO

0.6


HEO

0.5


Faststream

0.1


SEO

0.2


Grade 7

0.2


Grade 6

0.1


SCS

0.2

   

November

AA

1.8


AO

0.7


EO

0.6


HEO

0.4


Faststream

0.1


SEO

0.3


Grade 7

0.3


Grade 6

0.1


SCS

0.2

   

December

AA

1.3


AO

0.9


EO

0.5


HEO

0.3


Faststream

0.1


SEO

0.2


Grade 7

0.3


Grade 6

0.1


SCS

0.1

2012

  

January

AA

1.7


AO

1.0


EO

0.6


HEO

0.5


Faststream

0.1


SEO

0.3


Grade 7

0.3


Grade 6

0.2


SCS

0.1

   

February

AA

1.5


AO

0.8


EO

0.6


HEO

0.4


Faststream

0.0


SEO

0.5


Grade 7

0.4


Grade 6

0.2


SCS

0.2

   

March

AA

0.7


AO

0.8


EO

0.5


HEO

0.3


Faststream

0.0


SEO

0.5


Grade 7

0.4


Grade 6

0.3


SCS

0.1

   

April

AA

0.3


AO

1.2


EO

0.6

30 Oct 2012 : Column 193W


HEO

0.3


Faststream

0.1


SEO

0.4


Grade 7

0.3


Grade 6

0.3


SCS

0.2

   

May

AA

0.1


AO

0.9


EO

0.6


HEO

0.3


Faststream

0.0


SEO

0.3


Grade 7

0.4


Grade 6

0.3


SCS

0.2

   

June

AA

1.0


AO

0.5


EO

0.6


HEO

0.3


Faststream

0.1


SEO

0.4


Grade 7

0.3


Grade 6

0.1


SCS

0.1

   

July

AA

0.4


AO

0.6


EO

0.7


HEO

0.4


SEO

0.4


Grade 7

0.3


Grade 6

0.1


SCS

0.1

   

August

AA

1.3


AO

0.6


EO

0.7


HEO

0.4


Faststream

0.1


SEO

0.4


Grade 7

0.3


Grade 6

0.1


SCS

0.1

   

September

AA

0.9


AO

0.7


EO

0.7


HEO

0.3


Faststream

0.1


SEO

0.4


Grade 7

0.3


Grade 6

0.2


SCS

0.1

(1 )Figures include BIS core and UKTI. (2) Average calculated using average headcount in each grade.

Vocational Guidance: Young People

John Woodcock: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent assessment he has made of links made between local enterprise partnerships and career services in schools and colleges. [125088]

30 Oct 2012 : Column 194W

Michael Fallon: The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has made no formal assessment of the links made between local enterprise partnerships and career services in schools and colleges.

Local enterprise partnerships recognise the importance of having the right skills supply to meet the demands of local growth now and in the future. They are working increasingly closely with business to articulate skills needs and with colleges and providers in their areas to influence local skills provision.

However it is for the partnerships themselves, not Government, to determine how they best work with business and stakeholders in pursuit of their growth priorities.

Internships

Sir Tony Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what incentives his Department offers employers to encourage them to provide internships or work experience for (a) undergraduates and (b) graduates. [125297]

Mr Willetts: Both employers and young people benefit from internships. For young people, quality internships are an excellent way to enhance their skills and knowledge in preparation for the graduate jobs market. For businesses they offer low risk access to undergraduate or graduate skills, knowledge and innovation.

To encourage employers to offer graduate internships, we are funding the Graduate Talent Pool internships website:

http://graduatetalentpool.bis.gov.uk/

for a further three years. This is a free, one-stop service for employers who wish to offer graduate internships, and for recent graduates who wish to undertake one.

Education

Disabled Children

Mr Buckland: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what steps he is taking to ensure that families with disabled children are able to hold local authorities to account for the delivery of the local offer. [124998]

Mr Timpson: Local authorities would be required to work with children, young people and families to develop their local offer, setting out what families with children with special educational needs, including disabled children, can expect from local services. Those providing services will be accountable for their delivery, and the local offer will set out how families can make complaints or appeals if they are dissatisfied with services or decisions about their support.

Surplus School Places

Sir Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what financial support is available to allow secondary schools to retain surplus places to enable them to be used when increased numbers of children of primary school age and lower reach the age of 11. [124999]

30 Oct 2012 : Column 195W

Mr Laws: There is no specific funding for secondary schools to retain surplus places. For 2013-14, schools will receive funding for pupils counted on roll in October 2012. Funding in this way enables a more responsive system where good schools can expand to meet demand.

We recognise this principle may be an issue in rural areas with few accessible secondary schools, and will look at this as we review the new 2013-14 funding arrangements.

Academies

Mr Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what proportion of secondary schools (a) are and (b) are about to become academies in (i) Kettering constituency, (ii) Northamptonshire and (iii) England. [125030]

Elizabeth Truss [holding answer 26 October 2012]: In Kettering constituency five secondary academies are currently open, representing 83% of secondary schools. None are in the process of becoming academies.

In Northamptonshire 24 secondary academies are currently open, representing 59% of secondary schools. Five secondary schools are in the process of becoming academies, representing 12% of all secondary schools.

In England 1,512 secondary academies are currently open, representing 46% of secondary schools. 268 secondary schools are in the process of becoming academies, representing 8% of all secondary schools.

Academies: Tameside and Stockport

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) what recent discussions his Department has had with Tameside council on schools in Tameside becoming academies; and if he will make a statement; [124704]

(2) what recent discussions his Department has had with Stockport council on schools in Stockport becoming academies; and if he will make a statement. [124701]

Elizabeth Truss: The Department has regular discussions across the country, including in Tameside and Stockport, about academies. Schools that apply to convert to academy status are allocated a dedicated contact within the Department to support them through the process. Where a school is underperforming officials will discuss sponsored academy solutions with the local authority and school. There are five academies open in Stockport. In Tameside there are seven open academies, and two schools in the process of converting to academies.

Adoption

Steve Brine: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what plans he has to lower the age at which a child can be adopted. [124847]

Mr Timpson: There is no lower limit to the age at which a child can be adopted.

30 Oct 2012 : Column 196W

The Government is seeking to speed up the adoption process so that children for whom adoption is the right option can be placed with permanent adoptive families more quickly and so at a younger age than would otherwise be the case. ‘An Action Plan for Adoption’, which we published in March, aims to reduce delays in adoption by legislating to prevent local authorities from spending too long seeking a perfect adoptive match, by accelerating the assessment process for prospective adopters, and by making it easier for children to be fostered by their likely eventual adopters in certain circumstances. We have also introduced a local authority adoption scorecard to focus attention on the issue of timeliness, linked to a tougher intervention regime.

Adoption: Sunderland

Julie Elliott: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many couples in Sunderland adopted a child in each of the last three years. [124846]

Mr Timpson: Information on the number of couples who adopted a child is not available. The Department collects information on the numbers of looked after children who have been adopted by single people, civil partners, married and unmarried (same sex and different sex) couples. Some couples will adopt two or more children; therefore the number of couples who adopt will be lower than the number of children adopted.

The numbers of looked after children adopted by single people and couples in Sunderland are shown in the following table:

Children looked after who were adopted during the years ending 31 March by legal status of adopters1, years ending 31 March 2010 to 2012. Coverage: Sunderland local authority
Number
 201020112012

All looked after children who were adopted during the year ending 31 March

30

25

50

    

Legal status and gender of adopters

   

Single adopter

(2)

(2)

(2)

Same sex couple not in civil partnership

0

0

0

Different sex unmarried couple

(2)

(2)

(2)

Civil partnership couple

0

0

(2)

Married couple

25

20

45

(1) Numbers ha\e been rounded to the nearest five. (2) Figures not shown in order to protect confidentiality. Source: SSDA 903

Children in Care

Ann Coffey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many children were taken into care aged (a) 10, (b) 11, (c) 12, (d) 13, (e) 14 and (f) 15 in each of the last 10 years. [124684]

Mr Timpson: The number of children who were taken into care aged (a) 10, (b) 11, (c) 12, (d) 13, (e)14 and (f) 15 in each of the last 10 years is shown in the following table:

30 Oct 2012 : Column 197W

30 Oct 2012 : Column 198W

Children who were taken into care during the years ending 31 March by age(1, 2, 3, 4 )Years ending 31 March 2003 to 2012—Coverage: England
Number
Age on being taken into care (years)2003200420052006200720082009201020112012

Age 10

370

290

320

310

290

300

310

390

340

350

Age 11

360

310

300

310

270

240

310

340

330

350

Age 12

350

280

280

300

260

270

270

330

320

340

Age 13

320

290

320

320

250

240

280

330

310

360

Age 14

250

260

290

300

270

270

260

290

290

300

Age 15

170

210

210

190

190

210

240

290

290

260

(1) Numbers have been rounded to the nearest 10. (2) Children who were taken into care are children who started to be looked after under a care order, police protection, emergency protection order or child assessment order. (3) Historical data may differ from older publications. This is mainly due to the implementation of amendments and corrections sent by some local authorities after the publication date of previous materials. (4) Only the first occasion on which a child was taken into care in the year has been counted. Source: SSDA 903

Children: Abuse

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) what resources his Department plans to commit to tackling child abuse resulting from witchcraft branding or from accusations that children are possessed by evil spirits; and if he will make a statement; [124936]

(2) what steps his Department plans to take to implement the National Action Plan to tackle child abuse linked to faith or belief; and if he will make a statement; [124937]

(3) what recent steps his Department has taken to ensure that those responsible for safeguarding children are sufficiently aware of the risks of child abuse resulting from witchcraft branding or accusations that children are possessed by evil spirits; [124938]

Mr Timpson: In February 2011, Ministers held a meeting with AFRUCA, the Victoria Climbié Foundation, the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service, Trust for London, the Congolese Family Centre, the Metropolitan police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the London Safeguarding Children Board to discuss the child abuse relating to a belief in witchcraft and spirit possession; and to explore how the Government could work with local authorities, voluntary and community organisations and people in local areas to tackle it.

The Government created the National Working Group to Tackle Abuse Linked to Faith or Belief, in order to develop practical solutions to raise awareness, develop the skills of practitioners and support local communities to tackle such abuse. The Group decided that this could most effectively be delivered by means of an action plan, setting out the problems and solutions/actions, which members could realistically take forward.

The “Empowering Practitioners” strand of the plan aims to help those on the frontline in safeguarding and wider services to be better equipped to understand and respond well to situations where abuse linked to faith or belief is anticipated or occurs. We hope with understanding of this type of abuse that practitioners should have confidence in carrying out their responsibilities in the context of different belief systems. This should help to improve assessments and interventions. Local Safeguarding Children Boards provide strategic leadership for safeguarding children in any area. We have identified that they and their partners from local authority children's services and from the police have played a key role in some areas of the country. In particular, the Metropolitan police have issued specific advice to their officers on this type of abuse.

The Working Group meets on a regular basis to report and review the progress of the members have made in implementing the action plan. It last met on 24 October 2012.

Children: Disability

Graeme Morrice: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what plans he has to improve services for disabled children and young people who do not have special educational needs. [124705]

Mr Timpson: The Government are committed to improving the way in which children and young people who have special educational needs (SEN) and disabled children are identified, assessed, and supported. Alongside proposing changes to the law, we are taking other action to improve local practice. This includes helping develop the skills of those working with disabled children, and bringing into force the 'reasonable adjustments' duty for schools to provide auxiliary aids and services to disabled children and young people that was introduced through the Equality Act 2010. This is to ensure that those disabled children who do not have SEN receive the auxiliary aids and services they need, such as specialised computer programmes, hoists and sign language interpreters. The new Ofsted inspection framework (2012) also places an emphasis on inspecting the achievement of disabled pupils as well as those with SEN.

We propose that local authorities would be required to set out a local offer of education, health and social care services available to local children and young people with additional needs. This should enable families to know what they can expect through mainstream services, how they can seek access to more specialist support, how decisions are made about providing that support, and how to make a complaint. We expect that local offers would include information about social care services such as short breaks for disabled children and young people, and health services such as therapies.

Our proposed legislative reforms will strengthen duties on health and social care agencies. Health bodies would have a duty to commission jointly with local authorities the provision and support that is needed for children

30 Oct 2012 : Column 199W

and young people with SEN (including, as in our other proposals, those whose disability prevents or hinders them from making use of mainstream educational facilities).

In addition, our draft legislation proposes to extend protection by giving young people over compulsory school age the right to make disability discrimination claims to the First-tier Tribunal (SEND) and to pilot giving this right to children of compulsory school age. This will help to ensure that disabled children and young people will not be discriminated against by missing out on the services that should be provided to them.

These improvements sit alongside the continuing requirements on health agencies to provide health care, and the continuing duty on local authorities to assess whether social care services are needed by disabled children and their families, and where necessary to arrange these. Joint working between local authority and health services would be considerably strengthened through the combined effect of these new and existing statutory duties in ways that should benefit the families of all children with health or social care needs, whether or not they also have special educational needs.