Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Merrywood School, Bristol

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): In reaching his decision on the closure of Merrywood School, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for

21 Jun 2000 : Column WA32

Education and Employment was satisfied that approval would benefit pupils educationally. As the noble Lord is aware, the Secretary of State's decision was based on a number of factors, not least the poor educational opportunities the school offered its pupils. It is, I believe, relevant that Merrywood has been in special measures since April 1997 with very little evidence of any significant improvement in standards. The small number of pupils displaced by the school's closure will be likely to benefit by accessing a better standard of education if they attend alternative schools.

the noble Lord will also be interested to hear that Bristol is included in the second phase of Excellence in Cities, which targets inner city under-achievement, and pupils from the area currently served by the school will be able to benefit from this programme. Finally, Bristol City Council has agreed to take forward plans to develop an education park based on the Merrywood site. It is intended that this park will provide lifelong learning activities and, in partnership with local schools, offer study support opportunities for local children.

A-level Grades A and B at Independent and Grammar Schools

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of A-level grades A or B were gained by pupils at independent schools in the most recent year for which figures are available; and [HL2862]

    What proportion of A-level grades A and B were gained by pupils in the remaining state grammar schools in the most recent year for which figures are available. [HL2863]

Baroness Blackstone: The proportion of all GCE A-level grades A and B gained by 17 year-old pupils that were achieved at independent schools was 25 per cent for 1998-99. The proportion of all GCE A-level grades A and B gained by 17 year-old pupils that were achieved in the remaining state grammar schools was 13 per cent for 1998-99.

Departmental Cars

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 8 June (WA 173), what type and make of cars are used by the Department for Education and Employment.[HL2841]

Baroness Blackstone: The DfEE, including the Employment Service, operates 543 cars and 22 light commercial vehicles. Further details are set out in the following table. The department occasionally uses cars provided by the Government Car and Despatch Agency. These are not included in the figures.

21 Jun 2000 : Column WA33

MakeCarsVansTotal
Citroen6410
Fiat415
Ford19928
Mercedes033
Nissan202
Peugeot36137
Renault527
Rover606
Vauxhall4651466
Volkswagen011
Total54322565

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 8 June (WA 173), what type and make of cars are used by the Department for International Development.[HL2843]

Baroness Amos: The Department for International Development uses three cars from the Government Car and Despatch Agency. These are a Vauxhall Omega, a Vauxhall Vectra and a Ford Mondeo.

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 8 June, what type and make of cars are used by the Department of Trade and Industry. [HL2783]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Other than hire cars, the following makes and models are used:


    Rover Sterling


    Rover 400


    Ford Mondeo


    Ford Escort


    Vauxhall Astra


    Vauxhall Vectra


    Nissan Primera


    Fiat Cinquecento


    Fiat Brava


    Peugeot 206


    Citroen Xantia

Winter Fuel Payments: Birth Certificates

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why only original birth certificates are acceptable with claims for winter fuel payments; and[HL2806]

    Whether those whose original birth certificates have disintegrated through the passage of time, fire, flood or other accident are capable of qualifying for a winter fuel payment; and, if so, how; and[HL2807]

    Whether clinically certified sufferers from Alzheimer's disease and other impairments of memory, who cannot remember where they have put their original birth certificate, can qualify for winter fuel payments; and, if so, how; and[HL2808]

21 Jun 2000 : Column WA34

    Whether naturalised British subjects who are former refugees, whose original birth certificates are either in countries to which they cannot have safe access, or were destroyed by war or civil commotion, are capable of qualifying for winter fuel payments; and, if so, how; and[HL2809]

    How many applications for winter fuel payments have so far been refused for the lack of an original birth certificate; and[HL2810]

    In what percentage of the cases in which a winter fuel payment has been refused for lack of an original birth certificate, prosecutions for fraud have been brought or are under consideration; and[HL2811]

    What saving has so been achieved through the denial of winter fuel payments to those who have produced an original birth certicate; and what saving over a full year has been budgeted for such refusals; and[HL2836]

    What is their legal authority for accepting only original birth certificates with applications for winter fuel payments and refusing to accept certified copies.[HL2837]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): There are two main criteria that are applied to determine eligibility for a winter fuel payment.

First, the person must be aged 60 or more in the relevant qualifying week and second, the person must be ordinarily resident in Great Britain. Adequate proof of age is therefore essential to ensuring that public money is being properly spent.

Birth certificates, as certified copies of entries made by law concerning the date of birth of an individual, are the most effective means of verifying birth dates with regard to winter fuel payment claims. They are classed as primary evidence. However, a photocopy of a birth certificate can be accepted if it has been issued and endorsed by the appropriate authority, or has been notarised and stamped by any one of the following:


    an established civil servant;


    a member of the Foreign Service of the United Kingdom, Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service, or a British Diplomatic or Consular Officer;


    a doctor or surgeon registered under the law of the country where the event occurred;


    a minister of religion;


    a barrister, solicitor or advocate who is authorised to practise in the country where the event occured;


    a notary public* or any other person allowed to administer oaths in the country where the declaration is made.


    a magistrate;


    an officer of a bank who is authorised to sign documents on its behalf.

If, for whatever reason, it is not possible for someone who wishes to claim a winter fuel payment to locate their birth certificate, or if they do not possess

21 Jun 2000 : Column WA35

one, then the department would ask for two pieces of secondary evidence. Secondary evidence includes items within the list below, which is not exhaustive:


    a passport;


    a certificate of baptism;


    a certificate of confirmation;


    a certificate of marriage;


    a certificate of adoption;


    a National Health Service medical card;


    a certificate of naturalisation, alien's registration card, Home Office travel document;


    a certificate of service in HM forces;


    a certificate of employment under the Crown;


    a certificate of service in the mercantile marine;

21 Jun 2000 : Column WA36


    a certificate of membership of a trade union or friendly society;


    apprenticeship indentures;


    an early certificate or testimonial from an employer;


    life insurance policy;


    membership cards or papers of an approved society or unemployment insurance.

A claim to a winter fuel payment would not be refused on the basis of it not being accompanied by an original birth certificate. There are therefore no budgeting savings. There is also no question of any fraud investigation or prosecution being instigated because someone fails to provide such evidence. *A notary public (or notary) is a public official, usually a solicitor, whom the law allows to certify documents.

21 Jun 2000 : Column WA35



   Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page