§ Mr. Kidney
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what assessment he has made of the performance of Edexcel in handling examination papers; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Mudie
Edexcel is a commercial organisation, independent of Government, and responsible for its own procedures for handling examination papers. However, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) has172W responsibility for ensuring that qualifications will be accredited only if they meet stringent criteria, and for subsequently monitoring the activities of the awarding bodies.
The new accreditation criteria, which are being introduced this year, set out the necessary standards in the processes and procedures leading to awards and for ensuring high quality, consistency and rigorous standards in assessment and awarding.
At the Government's request, QCA is also implementing a package of reforms to enhance the transparency, independence, speed and accountability of the inquiries on results and appeals system covering GCSE, A level and GNVQ.
The new arrangements will be introduced in time to deal with cases arising from this summer's examinations.