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What steps they are taking to ensure that all the solely British ethnic minorities of Hong Kong, including minors who ceased to be Indian citizens by virtue of their acquisition of British National (Overseas) status by registration, are able to exercise their entitlement under the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997 to register as British citizens; and [HL3365]
What steps they are taking to identify applications for British citizenship from persons belonging to solely British ethnic minorities in Hong Kong which have been refused since 1997; whether they will grant citizenship to those applicants on a prioritised basis; and what statement they will make to those applicants. [HL3366]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): On 20 December, the Indian Minister of Home Affairs answered questions in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian central Parliament, concerning the position under Indian law of Indian minors who acquire British nationality. However, the answer directly contradicts previous statements made or authorised by the Indian Government, who hitherto have informed our
31 Jan 2006 : Column WA25
consideration of applications for British citizenship under the 1997 Act, and failed to acknowledge the continuing dialogue between the British and Indian governments on this issue.
In the circumstances, it would be prudent to await a formal reply to our Note Verbale dated 20 April 2005 before implementing any changes here. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is pursuing this vigorously and, in view of the fact that the Indian Government have now made a statement in the Lok Sabha, we are hopeful that we will receive a response soon.
Lord Davies of Oldham: Four train accidents in the Channel Tunnel have been reported to the Health and Safety Executive under the Railways (Notice of Accidents) Order 1986 and the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences (RIDDOR) Regulations 1995 since the tunnel's opening in 1994. All these involved fire or smoke emissions on trains or on vehicles on-board shuttles, and include the serious fire on-board an HGV shuttle train on 18 November 1996.
Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 16 December 2004 (WA 101), what initiatives deriving from the Northern Ireland Office consultative document on a Draft Strategy for Children and Young People in Northern Ireland, published in November 2004, have been (a) undertaken and implemented; (b) undertaken but yet to be completed; or (c) scheduled to be undertaken within the next three months. [HL3561]
The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Rooker): The final strategy will be launched in March 2006. A revised action plan which will set out what will be done across government for children and young people over the next three years, will be published in the first quarter of the 200607 financial year. The action plan will be reviewed and updated annually.
* This provides for agreement to be made between a highway authority and the private sector for the latter to fund highway improvements from which they could derive special benefit.
Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Davies of Oldham on 18 January (WA 110), whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the minutes taken of meetings of the Department for Transport's Air Transport White Paper external advisory group. [HL3562]
Lord Davies of Oldham: Minutes of all air transport White Paper external advisory group meetings are published on the Department for Transport's website at www.dft.gov.uk, and can be found by entering the term "external advisory group" into the website's search facility.
Lord Davies of Oldham: There are currently no plans to restrict or ban those under driving age from buying four-wheeled motorised vehicles. Existing law requires the users of powered vehicles on the public road to be appropriately licensed. Licensing involves age requirements.
How many responses to the Department of Education in Northern Ireland's Costello report on the reform of post-primary education were opposed to changes in the academic selection procedure and the proposed changes to grammar schools. [HL3511]
The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Rooker): The remit of the Post-Primary Review Working Group required it to take account of the responses to the multi-stranded consultation on the Burns recommendations, including the diversity of views on academic selection. The advice from the group (the Costello report) was not published for consultation and responses were not therefore sought on its content.
Lord Rooker: The Government do not define parents of schoolchildren as a single-interest group. Parents of schoolchildren who have written to the department, or who have responded to consultations on new post-primary arrangements, have expressed a range of views about different issues relating to the new post-primary arrangements. In developing new post-primary arrangements, the Government considered the range of views expressed by parents and other stakeholders.
Further to the Written Answers by the Lord President on 5 July 2004 (WA 59) and the Lord Rooker on 30 June 2005 (WA 45) and 30 November 2005 (WA 45), what are their reasons for not carrying out an infrastructural audit and planning financial expenditure in respect of the reform of post-primary education; and whether there are other areas of government where financial planning is not conducted. [HL3513]
Lord Rooker: Proposals for new arrangements for post-primary education will be developed locally by schools and school managing authorities working together, taking account of local needs and circumstances. Until proposals are developed, it is not possible to determine what changes will be involved in each locality and any associated costs.
Schools have been encouraged to carry out an audit of their existing provision against the requirements of the entitlement framework and to consider future provision in the context of what is available within the local area.
An allocation of £24.7 million has been made for the implementation of the new arrangements over the period 200506 to 200708, including work on developing the pupil profile, piloting arrangements for co-operation and collaboration among schools and between schools and the further education sector, and piloting the concept of specialist schools.
The pilots and any early proposals emerging will assist the Department of Education to estimate the costs beyond March 2008 and will be the subject of further consideration during the next spending review.
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