HC Deb 19 November 1998 vol 319 cc792-3W
Mr. bails

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what assessment he has made of the total cost of school inspections in Wales in each year from 1990 to 1997 indicating separately(a) the administration costs of the Office of Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools in Wales, (b) payments made by OHMCI, (c) costs to schools and (d) costs to local authorities. [58579]

Mr. Hain

Prior to 1992, HMI's main role was school inspection. Since 1992 inspections have increasingly been contracted out to Registered Inspectors enabling OHMCI to focus on its responsibilities for raising standards in schools, nursery settings and teacher training institutions. The frequency of school inspection has been increased so that all schools are inspected over a cycle of 5 years (6 years in the new cycle). OHMCI also inspects LEAs according to the requirements in the Education Act 1997 and assesses the quality and standards of work in further education colleges at the request of the Further Education Funding Council in Wales. From April 1999, OHMCI will also be responsible for inspecting the work of the Government funded training institutions and the Careers Service—giving them the widest remit of any comparable inspectorate in the UK. The rise in OHMCI's administrative costs between 1990 and 1998 reflects these evolving responsibilities.

The purpose of school inspection is to identify strengths and weaknesses so that schools may improve the quality of the education they provide and raise educational standards achieved by pupils. Schools and local authorities are not charged for school inspection.

OHMCI's administrative and programme costs are shown in the table:

Mr. Jon Owen Jones

Welsh Office Ministers have received numerous representations on the problems facing the livestock and dairy sectors and have met with both the farming unions and farmers' deputations on several occasions.

The Government have just announced a further major aid package totalling more than £120 million which will provide valuable immediate assistance to the industry. Welsh farmers will receive over £21 million of this, which will mean around on average £1,500 extra for cattle and sheep farmers in the Less Favoured Areas of Wales.

We appreciate that this is only a short-term solution and both my right hon. Friend and I are concerned to help farming in Wales adapt so that it can have a viable and prosperous long-term future. This is why the Welsh Office has established three industry-led working groups to develop action plans for taking forward the Food Strategy in the lamb and beef, dairy and organic food sectors. The action plans are due to be published in the New Year and the Welsh Office and the WDA will be working with the industry to take these plans forward.