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Merrywood School, Bristol

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

19 Apr 2000 : Column WA119

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): In reaching his decision on the proposals by Bristol local education authority to close Merrywood School, published on 5 July 1999, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State took account of the consultation on those proposals, and all other factors which appeared to him to be relevant, including the increased travelling for pupils. It was not relevant for him to consider documents related to previous proposals, such as the 1994 consultation document. The Social Exclusion Unit's role is a strategic one, and it does not extend to issues which are dealt with by a single government department. The unit therefore has no role in advising on individual proposals for school organisation changes, which are decided by the Secretary of State for Education and Employment in accordance with his statutory responsibilities. In reaching a decision the Secretary of State was satisfied as to the provision the local education authority were proposing to make for young people who are excluded or alienated from school, and commended the work of the Knowle West Community Steering Group in examining possibilities for the development of lifelong learning opportunities in the area.

New Local Government Network

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Department for Education and Employment has any links with the new Local Government Network organisation either by way of consultation or by officials co-operating on working groups. [HL2132]

19 Apr 2000 : Column WA120

Baroness Blackstone: The department has agreed to be a member of the group established by the New Local Government Network to improve the group's understanding of relevant central government policy and activity.

Disability Rights in Education

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be the likely costs to higher education of the implementation of the proposed Bill on special educational needs and disability rights in education.[HL2133]

Baroness Blackstone: The Government issued a consultation document on 17 March covering how disability rights in education might be implemented. The cost of implementation in higher education will be estimated in the light of responses to the document.

History Teaching

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether their policy on teaching of history, as outlined by the Lord Bach on 27 March (H.L. Deb., col. 591), that "History has an important role in putting lives, beliefs, values and attitudes in a much broader context", is consistent with their decision not to mark the bicentenary of the creation of the United Kingdom. [HL2071]

Baroness Blackstone: My noble friend the Lord Bach was referring in very general terms to the teaching of history. This is an issue quite separate from decisions about celebrations of particular historical events. I refer the noble Lord to the answers given by my noble friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, on 7 February (WA 60), 16 March (WA 230-231) and the Minister of State for the Cabinet Office on 28 March (WA 62).

The Government's policy on the bicentenary of the creation of the United Kingdom has been made clear on a number of occasions by my noble friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office.



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