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6 Jun 1996 : Column WA135

Written Answers

Thursday, 6th June 1996.

Hong Kong: BNSS Citizenship

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their view of the interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on the implementation in Hong Kong of the Chinese Nationality Law, which states that British citizenship acquired by Chinese nationals under the British Nationality Selection Scheme will not be recognised.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): We regard the British citizenship obtained under the BNSS as having exactly the same validity as British citizenship acquired in any other way. We do not differentiate between British citizens who have acquired their British citizenship through the BNSS and those who have acquired it in any other way. Passports issued under the BNSS are the same as passports issued to all other British citizens and are equally valid.

Israel: Nuclear Status

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they profess ignorance of Israel's nuclear weapons programme in view of the fact that this reduces the effectiveness of the United Kingdom's contribution to peace in the Middle East.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: I have nothing further to add to the reply given on 15th May 1996.

Europe: Human Rights Policies

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer given by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 21st May 1996 (WA89), whether their proposal to persuade the other members of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to join with them in passing a resolution on the approach of the European Court of Human Rights to the "margin of appreciation" is intended to alter the contents of the existing jurisprudence of the European Court; and if so, in what respects.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: I have nothing to add to the Answer I gave on 21st May [col: WA89].

6 Jun 1996 : Column WA136

Vietnam: Buddhist Prisoners

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consult other European Union countries with a view to requesting the authorities in Vietnam to allow a joint visit by officials from European Union embassies in Hanoi to Buddhist prisoners, including the Venerable Thich Hai Tang.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: At the present time Her Majesty's Government have no such plans.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ask the Vietnamese authorities what reply they made to the three requests in the appeal dated 7th March 1996 to the Communist Party leadership by Nguyen Dinh Ky by the 84 year-old father of Venerable Thich Hai Tang, who is reported to be seriously ill in prison.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We follow the case of Thich Hai Tang but do not believe it is for us to follow up the specific request made by his father. We continue to raise human rights issues with the Vietnamese Government; most recently the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the right honourable Member for Richmond and Barnes, did so when he visited Hanoi in April.

Gulf War: Chemical Weapons

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    For what reasons they discount the possibility that Iraq may have released Scud missiles containing toxic but sub-lethal quantities of nerve agents when 28 Iraqi Scud missile warheads containing Sarin were found at the end of the war.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): Careful analysis of reported detections of chemical weapons agents during the Gulf Conflict has failed to find any evidence of the release of nerve agents by the Iraqis.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they accept that, at the time of Operation Granby, Iraq had several chemical weapons including Soman and Sarin, and why they discounted Czechoslovak military reports that low levels of Sarin were detected in the Saudi theatre in the early days of the air conflict.

Earl Howe: At the time of Operation Granby, Iraqi stocks of chemical weapons (CW) included nerve agents of the Sarin and Soman types. The reported detections of CW agent by the Czechoslovak military have been carefully studied by UK authorities, who have found no collateral evidence that would support such detections.

6 Jun 1996 : Column WA137

Academic and Vocational Qualification Equivalences

Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the procedures whereby the equivalences stated in the National Targets for Education and Training for Foundation Learning between (a) five GCSEs at grades A-C, an intermediate GNVQ and an NVQ Level 2 and (b) two GCE A levels, an Advanced GNVQ and an NVQ Level 3 are established.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Lord Henley): The National Targets for Education and Training were first launched by the CBI in 1991. Academic and vocational qualification equivalences were agreed in consultation with a wide range of business, education and training organisations, including the National Council for Vocational Qualifications (NCVQ).

Foundation Learning: National Targets

Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the percentages of young people achieving each of the levels of qualifications at the appropriate ages set out in the National Targets for Education and Training for Foundation Learning in 1995 and in such earlier years for which information is available, giving separately the percentages achieving Target 1 by means of GCSEs at grades A-C, intermediate GNVQ, or NVQ Level 2 and achieving Target 3 by means of GCE A levels, Advanced GNVQ, or NVQ Level 3.

Lord Henley: Estimates from the Labour Force Survey show that in spring 1995 the percentage of young people aged 19-21 in the UK achieving level 2 qualifications was 67 per cent. and the percentage of young people aged 21-23 achieving level 3 qualifications was 45 per cent. Data for earlier years are given in the table. Estimates from the Labour Force Survey also show that 4 per cent. of young people aged 19-21 in spring 1994 and 7 per cent. in spring 1995 reported that they had an NVQ at or above level 2 and that 1 per cent. of young people aged 21-23 in spring 1994 and 2 per cent. in spring 1995 reported that they had an NVQ at or above level 3. In addition to the qualifications listed in the question, young people also reach these levels of attainment through vocational qualifications other than NVQs or GNVQs.

Within England 44 per cent. of 19 year-olds had achieved 5 GCSEs at grades A-C and 26 per cent. of 21 year-olds had achieved 2 GCE A levels by the end of the academic year 1994-95. Equivalent data for earlier years or for the UK are not readily available. The data requested on GNVQs are not available. GNVQs are recent qualifications, first introduced in September 1993 and largely taken by people aged 19 or under and so the current percentage of young people aged 19 or 21 with GNVQs will be small.

6 Jun 1996 : Column WA138

Percentage of young people qualified to Foundation Target levels

YearFoundation Target 1Foundation Target 3
PercentagePercentage
19844525
19854627
19864626
19884827
19895129
19905231
19925935
19936238
19946641
19956745

Source:

Labour Force Survey, spring of each year.

Notes:

1. Changes in the survey coverage in 1992 mean that figures are not directly comparable with earlier years.

2. Changes in the qualification questions mean that figures from 1993 are not directly comparable with those from earlier surveys.


Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the procedures for collecting data concerning young people and the qualifications they achieve so as to establish progress being made towards the National Targets for Education and Training for Foundation Learning.

Lord Henley: Progress towards Foundation Targets 1 and 3 is measured using data from the Labour Force Survey. This is a large household survey conducted by the Office of National Statistics which provides quite detailed information on the qualifications held by people of working age within the UK and their personal characteristics. The sample sizes for single age years, however, is not sufficient to provide the required level of precision and so data for three ages combined are used: ages 19, 20 and 21 for Foundation Target 1 and ages 21, 22 and 23 for Foundation Target 3.

The Department for Education and Employment collects complete data on awards of GCSEs within England and collects data on awards of vocational qualification in the UK from several larger awarding bodies, giving an estimated coverage of about three-quarters of vocational qualifications. The Welsh Office, Scottish Office and Northern Ireland Office also collect data on awards of GCSEs or their equivalents within their own countries. These data will be used to provide estimates for progress towards Foundation Target 2.


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