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Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My honourable friend Keith Hill, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the House of Commons, represented Her Majesty's Government at the Ministers' session of the World Road Congress in Kuala Lumpur. A Private Secretary accompanied him and the total cost for their flight and accommodation at the Congress, which took place between 3-5 October 1999, was £6,655.00. All travel complied with the requirements of the Ministerial Code and the Civil Service Management Code.
The World Road Association is the oldest international association involved with roads and transportation and its quadrennial Congress is the most important arena for shaping its policy direction and agenda for the four-year period. The Congress provided UK Agencies and exporters with an opportunity to further develop their contact networks and, in the Ministers' session, an appropriate international audience for the Minister to explain the new policy orientation for the Highways Agency and other UK road administrations arising from the Integrated Transport White Paper.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My department has developed a strategic approach to the further development of integrated education in Northern Ireland, not only through the approval of new schools, where they are robust and viable, but by supporting the transformation of existing schools to integrated status. In November 1999, my department issued a comprehensive information pack on the transformation process to all schools in Northern Ireland to ensure that there is a proper understanding of the process. In addition, my department provides significant funds to the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education to support its promotional and development work in the integrated sector, and has been the main contributor to the Integrated Education Fund, which assists the initial development costs of new schools. The growth of the integrated sector from 10 grant-aided schools with 2,000 pupils in 1989 to 43 schools with over 11,000 pupils in 1999 fully demonstrates my department's commitment to responding to parental demand for integrated education.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): Sure Start is a government programme for children under four and their parents. Its aim is to work with parents and children to promote the physical, intellectual and social development of pre-school children--particularly those who are disadvantaged--to enhance their chances of success. The programme is targeted on areas of disadvantage, typically with between 500 and 1,000 children under four, and will aim to provide services for all families in that area with children under four. A key target group of the population in these areas will be lone parents.
The Sure Start programme in England is being rolled out in stages, with the target to have 250 programmes operational by 2001-2002. The first 60 "trailblazer" areas were announced in January 1999 and most have now started to deliver services. A further 69 areas were announced in November 1999 and it is anticipated these will be up and running by the summer. It is hoped to announce a further round in the summer.
Information on how many lone parents are using Sure Start services is collected centrally, on a monthly basis, but this is not broken down by their age, nor that of their children. As the 60 trailblazer programmes are only just starting to deliver services, the information received so far does not give an accurate or reliable indication of the number of lone parents who are benefiting from Sure Start. As more Sure Start programmes start to deliver services, the overall number of lone parents benefiting from Sure Start will increase.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: The railway system in Northern Ireland is smaller per head of population than that in Great Britain. Public expenditure priorities in Great Britain and Northern Ireland have also been different, with spending on transport being afforded a lower relative priority in Northern Ireland. The future level of funding for the
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: European grant aid of £7.169 million is available for this project. However, when European grant aid was sought, the estimated cost of the project was £9.5 million. The Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company now estimate the cost to be £14.7 million so it has a shortfall in funding and this is delaying commencement of the project.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: The issue will be affected by decisions reached following the outcome of the work of the Task Force that is examining options for the future of railways in Northern Ireland. In principle, Northern Ireland Railways (NIR) would be permitted to lease trains if that is shown to be the most cost-effective option for replacing its rolling stock. However, unlike the other railway companies in the United Kingdom, NIR is publicly owned and consequently would normally have lower borrowing costs. This means that leasing is less likely to be cost effective for NIR than for other railway companies in the United Kingdom.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Planning Service under its chief executive, Mr H S McKay. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Official reports on the failed negotiations for entry to the European Communities in 1961-63 were prepared by officials, led by Sir Pierson Dixon, on the UK Delegation to the negotiations and by the Treasury. These reports are available at the Public Record Office (PRO) in a Foreign Office file, FO 371/177369 and a Treasury file, T 267/14.
Sir Con O'Neill was not involved in the preparation of these reports. His own report on the successful negotiations in 1970-72 for UK entry to the European Community will be published later this year by FCO Historians. The original report will be placed in the PRO at the time of publication.
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