HC Deb 21 June 1994 vol 245 cc66-7W
Mr. Byers

To ask the Secretary of State for Education which local education authorities have been written to on an individual basis by his Department about the nature and content of information being provided by the local education authority to parents on the question of grant-maintained status.

Mr. Robin Squire

The Department has written within the last 20 months to the following local education authorities about the nature and content of information that they have circulated to parents and governors on the question of grant-maintained status:

Avon Lancashire
Barnet Leicestershire
Berkshire Lewisham
Birmingham Liverpool
Bolton Merton
Bradford Newcastle
Cleveland Northamptonshire
Cornwall Northumberland
Cumbria North Tyneside
Derbyshire North Yorkshire
Durham Nottinghamshire
East Sussex Salford
Essex Sheffield
Hammersmith and Fulham Somerset
Havering Staffordshire
Humberside Surrey
Kent Wiltshire
Knowsley Wirral

Several have been written to on more than one occasion.

Mr. Byers

To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many ballots for grant-maintained status, and in respect of which schools, have been declared void as a consequence of misleading information being circulated to parents.

Mr. Robin Squire

One ballot for grant-maintained status has been declared void on the grounds that voting in the ballot is likely to have been influenced to a significant extent by misleading information. The school in question is Christ Church middle school in Staffordshire.

Ballots may be voided on these grounds under section 31 of the Education Act 1993, which came into effect for ballots initiated on or after 1 January 1994.

Mrs. Lait

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what was the outcome of the complaints about his Department's advertising campaign on grant-maintained schools.

Mr. Patten

The Advertising Standards Authority last week published its conclusions that these advertisements were not misleading and that they in no way breached the authority's code of practice.

I understand that the Comptroller and Auditor General has also examined the advertising as part of his normal audit and found that the Department had followed all the established conventions about Government publicity, that Ministers had agreed the detailed content of the advertisements and that they had been properly briefed on the conventions.

The Department's campaign has therefore now been given a clean bill of health on all counts.