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27 Mar 2003 : Column WA85

Written Answers

Thursday, 27th March 2003.

Northern Ireland: North/South Implementation Bodies

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 6 February (WA 42), what equality schemes or arrangements apply to the functions of North/South Implementation Bodies in the Republic of Ireland; how are they divided for those working on both sides of the border; and whether the Irish arrangements are to the same standard as those in the United Kingdom.[HL2139]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): Equality arrangements and their standards in the Republic of Ireland are a matter for that Government. The equality arrangements in the Republic of Ireland do not apply to the activities of North/South Implementation Bodies in Northern Ireland. Similarly the equality legislation in Northern Ireland does not apply to their activities in the Republic of Ireland.

Public Appointments: Vacancies Website

Baroness Golding asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will launch a new public appointments vacancies website.[HL2312]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): My honourable friend, the Minister of State for the Cabinet Office, has today announced that a new public appointments vacancies website has been launched at This has been developed through the joint partnership working of the Cabinet Office and the Department for Work and Pensions, and will be hosted alongside the Government's jobs and learning website at

The new website provides for the first time a single source of information about public appointments vacancies at national, regional and local levels across England and the UK. People can search the site by area of interest, government department and by location to identify the vacancies that are available. They can then access further information about each vacancy, including how to apply.

The Public Appointments Unit's own website is also being relaunched today at This provides general information about public appointments, how to get involved, the process and the range of public bodies.

For people who do not have access to the Internet, the unit is producing a bi-annual newsletter that will include details of all the vacancies.

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As the majority of today's public appointments vacancies are publicised, in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments' code of practice, the public appointments register maintained by the PAU can no longer be considered the most effective way to meet the needs of people who wish to become involved in public life. It has therefore been decided to close the register.

We believe that the changes we are making will provide greater access to information about public appointments. They also support the Government's wider objectives on diversity, putting citizens first and extending the range of services on-line.

GCSE Results in Hull

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Ashton of Upholland on 18 March (WA 22) concerning GCSE results in Hull, why grades A(star), A, B and C passes in 2001–02 are very much lower than the average in England; and what steps they are taking to improve the rate.[HL2234]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): Only 28.9 per cent of pupils in Hull's maintained schools gained as many as five GCSE grades between A* and C in 2002 and the Government recognise that this is disappointing. The position is due to a number of factors, including transfer of pupils from the city's primary schools to schools outside the city boundary, and disappointing pupil progress over the two years leading up to GCSE. The proportion of pupils securing five good GCSE grades has increased, albeit slowly, from a very low level of 23.4 per cent in 1999.

The recent Ofsted report on the city council as a local education authority states that, since the previous inspection in 1999, there had been "some loss of impetus and focus on further improvement" in Hull, following the resignation of the director of education in 2001. In general, progress in the past three years had been slow. However, progress is reported to be "much improved" in the past year, although a step-change in performance is required if more children are to reap the full benefit of a secondary education. Since the Ofsted report, the director of education appointed in late 2001 has resigned. His successor is to take up her duties in May.

Since 2002, the Government have made available a package of support to raise attainment in Hull and to sustain the city's secondary schools in achieving the step-change they need. This support aims to secure significant improvement by reinforcing work already under way in the city and by focusing on the specific needs of Hull. A key theme of that support is the facilitation of partnership working, among schools and between the schools and the local authority. For three years from 2003–04, this support will be sustained by new funding that will have a big impact in Hull; an additional annual grant to the city council of

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£110,000 aimed at strengthening the council's support for raised pupil achievement, and the substantial investment in the leadership incentive grant—£5.625 million over the next three financial years.

European Social Fund Objective 3 Co-financing

Lord Harris of Haringey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the arrangements for tendering via Jobcentre Plus for European Social Fund Objective 3 Co-financing in respect of capacity building are satisfactory; and[HL2108]

    How many tenders for European Social Fund Objective 3 Co-financing in respect of capacity building have been rejected on the basis that (a) answers to each question exceeded one page of A4 paper, (b) the layout of the application was altered; or (c) the font size for both questions and answers was smaller than 12 point.[HL2109]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The Government are satisfied that Jobcentre Plus is applying proper and fair tendering arrangements for all organisations wishing to apply for the European Social Fund. Jobcentre Plus tendering arrangements are underpinned by principles of openness, transparency and consistency. These principles offer a fair approach to Jobcentre Plus competitive tendering arrangements which aim, ultimately, to offer better and more effective services

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for unemployed and disadvantaged people that this Government are trying to help.

Three tenders for European Social Fund Objective 3 Co-financing in respect of capacity building have been rejected because their documentation was not completed in a way which would enable them to be compared consistently and fairly with other applications in the competitive tendering exercise.

Improvement Grants: Small Hotels and Boarding Houses

Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What improvement grants are now available to small hotels and boarding houses.[HL2205]

The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone): The previous government ended improvement grants under the Development of Tourism Act in England.

Objective 1 Status and Funding

Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which areas of England have Objective 1 status and funding; and in which year this funding expires in each area.[HL2204]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The areas of England which currently have Objective 1 status and funding are Merseyside, South Yorkshire and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. This will expire at the end of the current structural funds programming period in 2006.

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