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Whether inspections carried out by Ofsted in 1998 of reception classes in primary schools included a representative sample of schools serving inner-city and other severely disadvantaged areas.[HL1408]
The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): These are matters for HM Chief Inspector of Schools, Chris Woodhead. I have asked him to write to the noble Lord and to place a copy of his letter in the Library.
Baroness Blackstone: More than 5,850 candidates are undergoing training on the national professional qualification for headship; some 196 have already qualified. A further tranche will qualify later this month and the next recruitment round is due to open in April.
We recognise the crucial role played by heads in our schools. Our vision for a modernised teaching profession set out in the Green Paper, Teachers, meeting the challenge of change, published on 3 December 1998 aims to support better school leadership through the establishment of a new national college for school leadership and a national framework of headship training based on the best of the existing programmes.
The Green Paper made clear our intention to establish the requirement for all those new coming to headship to hold the national professional headship qualification by 2002. We continue to work to ensure that the qualification is fit for the purpose and that a sufficient pool of candidates is in place.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The bids we have received for a beyond visual range air-to-air missile, BVRAAM, to arm Eurofighter are being subjected to a full technical and commercial assessment. We hope to make an announcement on the outcome of the competition later this year. The assessment will take all relevant factors into account, including missile performance, cost and industrial factors. The extent to which the programme could have long-term consequences for defence and industry will depend, inter alia, on the detailed proposals offered to the MoD.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): During the last UK Presidency of the EU Council, agreement was reached on changes to animal health trade rules. The new rules allow the UK to apply for official freedom from enzootic bovine leukosis for Great Britain, and we intend to do so. this will benefit farmers and will reduce public expenditure.
The Cattle Health Scheme attests herds as being individually free of enzootic bovine leukosis, so will not be needed once Great Britain freedom is achieved. We will continue to run the scheme for the time being and review its future in September. Officials are writing to all members of the scheme to let them know the position.
Lord Donoughue: We received 26 responses to the consultation document and we have also received other correspondence relating to these proposals. Almost all argued that the proposed charges should not be levied at a time when the livestock industry is still in great financial difficulties. Some argued that the charges would discriminate against small abattoirs in rural areas.
My honourable friend the Minister of State and his colleagues in Scotland and Wales have carefully considered these responses but concluded that, in the light of the Government's overall priorities, we should proceed as planned. We therefore laid the necessary regulations before Parliament on 8 March 1999. A number of consultees commented that the charge should
Lord Donoughue: In view of Ministers' role in the formal byelaw-making process I am unable at this stage to comment on the detail of the Environment Agency's proposals. We will, however, make an announcement once Ministers have made a decision about confirmation of the byelaws.
Lord Donoughue: Arrangements implementing new EU rules came into force in April 1995. These replaced the previous system of annually renewable slaughterman's and knacker's licences with a requirement that anyone carrying out commercial slaughter must be assessed for competence and hold a registered slaughterman's licence. These arrangements apply to farmers and their employees who regularly slaughter animals.
Lord Donoughue: A total of 4,773 registered slaughterman's licences were issued between April 1995 and the end of December 1998, generating a total income of £95,460. The register does not identify the licence holder's occupation or status. There is a single fee of £20.00 for the issue and registration of a licence. Licences are no longer required to be renewed annually.
Lord Donoughue: The £20 fee for a registered slaughterman's licence covers the cost of administration and registration. If it is necessary for a Ministry veterinary officer to visit a farm solely for the purpose of carrying out an assessment of competence, a fee is charged to recover the full cost of that visit.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: As at April 1998, the average cost of answering a written Parliamentary Question and an oral Parliamentary Question was £115 and £267 respectively.
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