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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): I agree with the noble Lord that the interests of children need to be promoted across government. This is why the Children and Young People's Unit (CYPU) was set up, with a remit to ensure that issues concerning children and young people are represented and taken into consideration in government policy and to influence policy in the interest of children and young people. This role is further endorsed by the 2002 Spending Review settlement.
Children's interests are also co-ordinated and promoted through the Minister for Young People and the Cabinet Committee on Children and Young People's Services, which comprises Secretaries of State from 11 government departments with a key interest in policies and services for children and young people. The Government are currently exploring the pros and cons of establishing a children's commissioner.
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: Our Languages Strategy makes clear that primary schools will be expected to offer an EU language as part of the language entitlement. We are funding initial teacher training primary places in French, Spanish and German for 200304 to support that expectation and to reflect their popularity. The allocation of primary language ITT places will be finalised in February.
The strategy also sets out our intention to increase the number of ITT places for modern foreign languages in subsequent years. ITT allocations for other European languages will be considered for 200405, based on demand from schools and ITT providers.
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: Our main priority is to achieve a step change in language competency in this country, create an appetite for learning and broaden and enrich opportunities for language learning at school and beyond. In the current funding period, our main priorities will be the development of a recognition scheme, increasing teacher and specialist non-teacher supply, the appointment of a national
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: The proposal to establish standards and training for the new role of higher level teaching assistant is included in my department's consultation document Developing the role of school support staff. The costs of training for the role will depend inevitably on decisions about the model of training, which will not be made until the outcomes of the consultation are known after its deadline of 22 January 2003.
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: We have no plans to change the autonomy of Oxford and Cambridge colleges and have not considered what amendments would be necessary to amend or repeal the various private Acts and other legislation relating to Oxford and Cambridge universities and their constituent colleges.
The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone): Information is not held centrally on the number of justices' on-licences which have a special hours certificate and public entertainment licences permitting late night music and dancing that have been revoked or not renewed.
Baroness Blackstone: That remains our intention. In A Safe Bet for Success, which the Government published in March 2002 and which set out our plans for the overall reform of the controls on gambling, we said that we would change the law on adults-only gaming machines to allow them to use these payment methods. In March 2001, we consulted on proposals to achieve these objectives by means of an order under the Regulatory Reform Act 2001, and we will be announcing our decision on taking that forward soon.
Baroness Blackstone: Under current law, crane and redemption machines found in arcades are classed as gaming machines if they involve gambling. That will remain the case under our plans for the reform of the law on gambling, which we have set out in A Safe Bet for Success. Under our plans, the only gaming machines which will be allowed to be made available for play by children will be those classified as Category D.
The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Government (either through the inquiry or relevant government departments) provide funds only to counsel and to the firms of solicitors who represent interested parties or limited representation to quasi-interested parties; for example, those representing media witnesses. The hourly rate allowed for fee earners (counsel, solicitors, assistant solicitors and paralegals) include clerical support overheads. It is from the fees payable to the legal teams (details of these payments in respect of the families and NICRA were included in answer to a Parliamentary Question from the honourable Member for East Londonderry on 13 January 2003 (Hansard, col. 434W) that they pay for any administrative support necessary. The inquiry does not have details of whom the legal teams employ or their qualifications or remuneration. It is also for the individual legal teams to determine who might need to attend in support on any particular day, but
What are the current physical fitness requirements for all recruits to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.[HL968]
Lord Williams of Mostyn: All applicants in the first three Police Service of Northern Ireland recruitment competitions had to complete successfully the physical competence assessment as a requirement of the recruitment process.
The Chief Constable has decided that applicants in the current competition should not be required to complete successfully the physical competence assessment as a prerequisite to appointment. The point of assessment has instead been moved to the end of the student officer training course. However the requirement successfully to complete the assessment prior to attestation as a constable remains.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Ulster Community and Hospitals Trust is currently considering proposals and developing a business case to enhance and modernise services on the Ards Hospital campus. An overall rationalisation exercise is also being considered and this may lead to the sale of surplus assets in the trust. In the near future the trust intends to commence a public consultation process on the future provision of services, both in Newtownards and Bangor.
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