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Higher Education:National Committee of Inquiry

Baroness Rawlings asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Lord Henley): The National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education faces an important and challenging task. Higher education has a vital role to play in raising the levels of the nation's skills and competitiveness and thus enhancing our capacity to generate wealth and to improve our quality of life. The National Committee of Inquiry will make recommendations on how the purposes, shape, structure, size and funding of higher education should develop to meet the needs of the UK over the next 20 years. It will have a significant influence on future generations of students, on the development of universities and colleges, and on the wider economy, society and culture of this country.

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My right honourable friends the Secretaries of State for Education and Employment, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are therefore grateful to all those who responded to our consultations on the Committee's composition and draft terms of reference. In the light of those responses, they are pleased to appoint the following members:

NamePosition
Sir Ron Dearing (Chairman)
Professor John ArbuthnottPrincipal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde
Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde(formerly Brenda Dean)
Ms Judith EvansDirector of Corporate Personnel, Sainsbury's
Sir Ron GarrickManaging Director and Chief Executive of
Weir Group
Sir Geoffrey HollandVice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter
Professor Diana LaurillardPro Vice-Chancellor (Technology Development) of the Open University
Mrs. P. A. MorrisHeadteacher, The Blue School, Wells
Sir Ronald OxburghRector of Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
Dr. David PotterChairman of Psion Plc
Sir George QuigleyChairman of Ulster Bank
Sir William StubbsChief Executive of the Further Education Funding Council and Rector Designate of the
London Institute
Sir Richard SykesDeputy Chairman and Chief Executive of Glaxo-Wellcome Plc
Professor David WatsonDirector of the University of Brighton
Professor Sir David WeatherallRegius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford
Professor Adrian WebbVice-Chancellor of the University of Glamorgan
Mr. Simon WrightEducation and Welfare Officer, Students' Union, the University of Wales College of Cardiff

We are grateful to these members for agreeing to serve on this important inquiry.

A copy of the list of members and the full terms of reference has been placed in the Library.

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the context of the forthcoming review of higher education, they have any plans to address the provision (in print or electronic form) of books and learning materials to students directly and through libraries.

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Lord Henley: As I announced earlier today, copies of the final terms of reference for the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education have been placed in the Library. The terms of reference are wide-ranging, and it will be for the committee itself to decide on which specific issues to focus within those terms.

NHS Supplies Authority: Corporate Governance

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Cadbury recommendations are being observed and implemented in full by the National Health Supplies Authority.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The Cadbury recommendations were used as the basis for the National Health Service Codes of Conduct and Accountability issued in April 1994, and a financial framework manual issued in October 1995. The NHS Supplies Authority fully meets the requirements of the codes and other guidance on corporate governance in the NHS.

Habitual Residence Test

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the costs to local authorities of help provided under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 to those who fail the habitual residence test; whether these costs fall disproportionately on particular local authorities; and whether they are reflected in those authorities' standard spending assessments.

Baroness Cumberlege: The information requested is not collected centrally, but the Government are not aware of a significant problem.

Standard spending assessments are intended to reflect general need for personal social services expenditure, through the use of broad indicators of potential demand.

Drugs Strategy

Baroness Masham of Ilton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in implementing the Tackling Drugs Together strategy.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): The Government's drugs strategy for England for the period 1995/98, Tackling Drugs Together, was published on 10th May 1995. While fully maintaining the emphasis on law enforcement and reducing supply, the strategy recognises the need for stronger action on reducing the demand for illegal drugs. Separate action is under way in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland,

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consistent with the strategy for England, but tailored to the particular circumstances in those countries.

Forty-nine tasks were set for government departments and statutory agencies in implementing the strategy during 1995/96. All have been undertaken and, where appropriate, completed. In particular:


    all police forces are publishing drugs strategies which combine law enforcement, demand reduction and partnership measures;


    research into the nature and incidence of drug related crime is under way;


    HM Customs and Excise has reviewed its anti-drugs effort, and resources allocated to its investigation and intelligence work have been increased;


    the National Criminal Intelligence Service has reviewed its operations and is working more closely with the police and Customs;


    co-operation between the police and Customs has been enhanced, with performance indicators set for 1996/97 covering the full range of drugs law enforcement and, for the first time, a joint press conference announced collective results in 1995;


    each probation service is developing a drugs strategy in line with guidance from the Home Office and Association of Chief Officers of Probation;


    all prison establishments have developed local drugs strategies--focusing on supply control, demand reduction and treatment--in line with the national strategy, using trained multi-disciplinary teams of staff;


    mandatory drug testing has been successfully implemented in all prison establishments;


    a first phase of drug treatment pilot schemes, involving 22 prisons, has been introduced;


    practical guidelines for local criminal justice drug prevention programmes have been issued for consultation--six collaborative projects are putting the guidelines into practice;


    funding of £5.9 million has delivered 16 innovative drug education projects and enhanced teacher training;


    guidance on managing drug-related incidents and drug education has been sent to all schools, with local policies being developed accordingly;


    information about drug education teaching materials and resources has been made available to schools;


    the Office for Standards in Education is monitoring the response by schools and others, including specific studies of drugs education and the contribution of the youth service to drugs prevention;


    consultations with further and higher education bodies have been undertaken to encourage effective prevention, counselling and support services;

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    a three-year national publicity campaign targeted at young people and parents run by the Health Education Authority, costing £5 million a year, has been launched;


    an increasing number of private companies have become involved in working nationally and locally on drugs prevention;


    £1.1 million has been used on 40 projects for early intervention services for young people at risk of drug misuse;


    a review of substance misuse services for young people has been published by the Health Advisory Service;


    the consultation phase on improving the health and safety of young people at clubs and other venues is nearing completion;


    a four-year work programme has been agreed for the Drugs Prevention Initiative;


    the 24-hour free national drugs helpline service has answered 192,755 calls in its first year;


    a national drugs information strategy is being developed, in consultation with the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and other bodies;


    the Effectiveness Review on effective and appropriate treatments reported to Ministers and has now been published, with work in hand to provide guidance to purchasers in the light of the review and other recent findings;


    shared care arrangements for drug misusers between primary and secondary health care providers have been reviewed by all health authorities;


    contacts have been made with medical and nursing professional and statutory bodies to improve staff training and education.

At regional and local level, the main action has been the establishment of 105 Drug Action Teams across England, and their local community networks (Drug Reference Groups). All teams were established by 30th September 1995, and we agreed all their action plans for 1996-97 and 1997-98 by the beginning of April. Every team comprises senior professionals from the relevant health and local authorities, and police probation, and (where appropriate) prison services. Some teams also include voluntary sector, business and Customs representatives. All are seeking to encourage these and other groups to engage in practical work to tackle drug misuse on the ground. A digest of examples, drawn from the first action plans, has been published to help on this.

To assist in assessing the effectiveness of the strategy as it develops, baseline information on the key performance indicators set out in Tackling Drugs Together is now being collected. The significance of these indicators--and others locally--will be their trends over time. But the immense commitment to tackling drug misuse which has been shown across the country--especially amongst Drug Action Teams--is already very encouraging. The Government will continue to support this work as a high priority, both through the Central Drugs Co-ordination Unit and in other ways.

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