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Schools: Inspections

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the current Ofsted inspection cycle is for schools; how this varies for high and low performing schools; what plans there are to change the inspection cycle; and if he will make a statement. [203086]

Jim Knight: The current school inspection cycle began in September 2005. Ofsted is required to inspect each maintained school by 1 August 2009 and, following that inspection, to inspect each such school within three school years from the end of the school year in which the last inspection took place.

Within the cycle, the frequency of inspection is determined by Ofsted. Schools that are judged to require significant improvement are subject to a monitoring visit, which takes place between six and eight months after the relevant inspection, followed by a full inspection after a year. Those schools judged to require special measures receive termly monitoring
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visits until they are removed from this category. However, if they remain in special measures for two years they will be re-inspected at that point. In addition, some schools that are judged by Ofsted to be satisfactory overall but with underperformance in some areas of their work receive a monitoring visit between 12 and 18 months after the inspection.

The inspection cycle and other aspects of the school inspection arrangements from September 2009 are currently under review by the Department and Ofsted.

Schools: Sports

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much (a) National Lottery funding and (b) Government funding school sport received in each year since 2003-04 for which figures are available, expressed in 2007-08 prices. [203022]

Kevin Brennan: A breakdown of Exchequer funding and Big Lottery investment in England into PE and school sport from 2003-04 to 2007-08 (adjusted to 2007-08 prices) is set out in the following table:

£ million
Financial year Lottery DCSF/DCMS Funding

2003-04

155

116.6

2004-05

353.7

166.3

2005-06

78.9

210

2006-07

31.5

260.4

2007-08

21.5

266.5

Total

640.6

1,019.8


Sure Start Programme: Internet

Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what proportion of the Sure Start budget was spent on updating the Sure Start website in each year for which figures are available. [202835]

Beverley Hughes: The Department spent £71,316 of the £1,329,016,000 Sure Start budget on updating the Sure Start website during the 2006-07 financial year. During the 2007-08 financial year the Department spent £82,834 of the £1,650,397,000 Sure Start budget on updating the website.

Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much his Department and its predecessors spent on updating the Sure Start website in each of the last five years. [202877]

Beverley Hughes: The Department spent £55,375 on editorial resources and £15,941 on enhancing and developing the Sure Start website during 2006-07, so totalling £71,316 for that financial year. During 2007-08 the Department spent £63,305 on editorial resources and £19,529 on enhancing and developing the website, so totalling £82,834 for that financial year.

Disproportionate costs would be incurred in sourcing and supplying information prior to the 2006-07 financial year.


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Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Caleb McCarry

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which representatives of his Department met Mr Caleb McCarry on his recent visit to the UK; and what subjects were discussed at those meetings. [202147]

Meg Munn: Representatives of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Americas Directorate met US-Cuba Transition Co-ordinator, Caleb McCarry, on 15 April 2008 during his recent visit to London. They discussed issues of mutual interest concerning Cuba.

Departmental Freedom of Information

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the cost to his Department has been of appealing against freedom of information requests submitted by Nicholas Gilby (EA/2007/71/78/79), including to the Information Tribunal; and how much has been paid to counsel representing his Department. [202720]

Meg Munn: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has not lodged any appeals against any decisions made about freedom of information requests submitted by Nicholas Gilby. Mr. Gilby did, however, appeal three decisions made by the Information Commissioner in relation to his requests for FCO papers that had previously been transferred to the National Archives, which went before the Information Tribunal in March 2008. The FCO does not hold information on the total costs to the taxpayer of Mr. Gilby’s appeals in these cases.

European Union: Festivals and Special Occasions

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what events his Department has planned to mark Schuman Day on 9 May 2008. [203200]

Mr. Jim Murphy: As has been the case in previous years, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London has no events planned to mark Europe Day on 9 May. The FCO's network of missions across Europe do participate in Europe Day events in their host countries, respecting local circumstances.

Iran: Human Rights

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent (a) assessment he has made of the human rights situation in Iran and (b) discussions he has had with the Government of Iran on human rights. [202773]

Dr. Howells: Iran’s overall human rights record is poor. We have a number of concerns about human rights violations in Iran, including the increasing use of the death penalty (and its continued use for juvenile offenders) and the growing restrictions on any form of dissent or organised protest. Human rights defenders, women’s rights activists, trade unionists, non-governmental organisation workers and students continue to face pressure including intimidation, questioning, arrests and
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sentences on charges of ‘acting against national security’ or ‘propaganda against the system’. Newspapers and magazines are regularly closed down and websites blocked for criticising the Government or crossing red lines. Iran’s failure to live up to its commitments under the international human rights conventions it has signed up to is particularly disappointing.

We remain committed to supporting international human rights standards in Iran and regularly raise our concerns with the Iranian authorities. We usually raise human rights issues with the Government of Iran through the EU, in order to maximise impact and emphasise that our concerns are shared across a range of countries. So far this year the EU has raised human rights issues with the Iranian authorities at least seven times in meetings and made public statements on a number of issues including individual death sentences, the treatment of members of the Baha’i faith, detained human rights defenders and students, and the draft Islamic penal code. We also discuss human rights issues bilaterally with Iranian officials. Most recently, on 6 March, I issued a statement calling for the release of two detained trade unionists in Iran, and on 1 April I called in the Iranian ambassador to raise our concerns about articles of the draft penal code that would make apostasy punishable by death.

Iran: Oil

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government’s policy is on investments in Iranian oil and gas; and if he will make a statement. [201999]

David Miliband: The UK would prefer a more positive relationship with the Iranian Government including a constructive trade and investment relationship, but Iran has continued to act in ways that make this difficult to achieve. In particular, they have failed to comply with successive UN Security Council Resolutions. We have made clear that it cannot be business as usual and will continue to pursue a dual track approach, involving further sanctions and at the same time encouraging the Iranians to take up the E3+3’s generous offer, which we are currently refreshing, as a basis for negotiations. On 17 April, during his visit to the US, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced that the UK would seek measures to act against investment in Iran’s Liquefied Natural Gas sector. This is one of several options currently under discussion within the EU.

Iran: Sanctions

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what decisions were reached at the 16 April meeting of the diplomatic political directors of China, the United States, Russia, the UK, France and Germany in Shanghai on (a) negotiations with, (b) sanctions against and (c) revisions to the 6 June 2006 E3+3 proposals on Iran; and if he will make a statement. [202000]

David Miliband: Discussion among the political directors from the E3+3 in Shanghai focused on how best to refresh the June 2006 offer that we made to Iran, as the other Foreign Ministers in the E3+3 and I made clear
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we would do in our statement marking the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1803 on 3 March 2008. We have made it clear to Iran that our offer of dialogue remains, but that if Iran continues to refuse to comply with the demands of the international community, we will pursue further sanctions, in line with our dual-track policy of pressure and engagement.

Kosovo: Politics and Government

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received consequent upon the Government's recognition of the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo. [202127]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The Serbian Government have made clear, both orally and in writing, their disagreement with the UK on recognition of Kosovo's independence.

Malaysia: Military Decorations

Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from the Government of Malaysia on the right of British veterans to wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal. [202148]

Meg Munn: The Malaysian authorities have raised this issue with us both in London and Kuala Lumpur.

The Permanent Secretary at the Malaysian Ministry of Defence has raised the matter with our High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib raised the issue of the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal with my right hon. Friend the then Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, in November 2006. There were also earlier representations at an official level, both in London between the Malaysian High Commission and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and between senior Malaysian officials and our High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur.

Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what opportunity the Malaysian authorities were given to express their opinion in consultation before the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals decided that veterans could accept but not wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal. [202184]

Meg Munn: There were a number of contacts with the Malaysian High Commission on the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal, and the British rules on the acceptance and wear of foreign medals were fully explained.

Military Decorations

Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals has ruled that a medal awarded by a foreign Government may be accepted but not worn by British veterans in the last 30 years. [201167]


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Meg Munn: The Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals (HD Committee) recommended in 2006 that veterans should be allowed to accept but not wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal. Similar exceptions were made for the Kuwait and Saudi Arabian Medals following the first Gulf War. Second World War veterans who served in Greece may receive campaign medals from the Greek Government (Greek War Medal and War Star) but permission has not been given to wear the medals. There may be further examples over the last 30 years, but the HD Committee’s usual practice is not to recommend acceptance of foreign medals.

Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many countries award medals to British service (a) personnel and (b) veterans; and whether their recipients in each instance are permitted to wear the medal. [202149]

Meg Munn: Two countries (the US and Canada) have recently awarded medals to British service personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unrestricted permission to accept and wear foreign awards can be granted to British service personnel on exchange, attachment or loan to a foreign state, who are involved in a military operation or emergency on behalf of that state. The same applies to British service personnel serving in a UK unit in a bilateral force under the command of another country, who render special service to that country’s forces in a military operation or emergency. This is consistent with both the five-year rule and the double-medalling rule, which are important in the British honours system.

Overseas Students: Scholarships

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the 2006 review of Chevening scholarships which he has placed in the Library was the same review of scholarship funding to which he referred in his written ministerial statement of 13 March 2008, Official Report, columns 22-4WS, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office scholarships and fellowships. [202691]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The 2006 review of Chevening scholarships was the first of several reviews which led to the changes in Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) scholarships announced by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on 13 March. There was an external review of Marshall scholarships completed in February 2007 and a formal internal review of Chevening fellowships completed in September 2007. In the context of the development of its new strategic framework, the FCO looked again at scholarship and fellowship funding in late 2007.

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his written ministerial statement of 13 March 2008, Official Report, columns 22-4WS, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office scholarships and fellowships, whether he has undertaken separate assessments of the Chevening, Commonwealth and Marshall scholarship programmes. [202692]


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Mr. Jim Murphy: As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said on 13 March, several reviews led to the changes in Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) scholarships. There was a review of Chevening scholarships in 2006, an external review of Marshall scholarships completed in February 2007 and a formal internal review of Chevening fellowships completed in September 2007. In the context of the development of its new strategic framework, the FCO looked again at scholarship and fellowship funding in late 2007.

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written Ministerial statement of 13 March 2008, Official Report, columns 22-24WS, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office scholarships and fellowships, what comparative analysis he has made of his Department’s engagement with alumni of his Department’s scholarship schemes, including (a) Commonwealth scholarships, (b) Chevening and (c) Marshall programmes; and whether his remarks in the statement on this matter related to all three schemes. [202986]

Mr. Jim Murphy: As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said on 13 March, we have not consistently done enough to build the personal relationships with the scholars which we need to get the most out of these schemes. This applies to all three schemes, and as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary also said, we are working hard to improve the ways in which we build links with scholars right from the start of the selection process.

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written Ministerial statement of 13 March 2008, Official Report, columns 22-24WS, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office scholarships and fellowships, whether his statement, that his Department had pursued high numbers of scholars which had sometimes reduced focus on quality, applied to each scholarship and fellowship scheme. [203004]

Mr. Jim Murphy: As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said on 13 March, we found a number of weaknesses in our scholarship schemes. But those weaknesses did not apply equally to all our schemes. The pursuit of numbers, which sometimes led to a reduced focus on quality, is a point which applied to the selection of some Chevening scholars.

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his statement of 13 March 2008, Official Report, columns 22-4WS, on FCO scholarships and fellowships, that his Department has not always maintained contact with alumni, applied equally to (a) Commonwealth, (b) Chevening and (c) Marshall scholarships. [203307]


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