§ Mr. Pickthall
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what discussions he has had with travel companies about the differential costs of holidays that encourage holiday absences in schools. 
§ Jacqui Smith
[holding answer 20 July 2000]: We are engaged in on-going discussions with the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) to see what we can do together to reduce the number of family holidays taken during term time.
As a result of earlier discussions, ABTA wrote to all its members on 15 December 1999, asking them to remind parents of the implications of taking holidays in term time. ABTA members were also requested to remind parents of the importance of discussing their plans with the school before making any firm commitment.
Our recent guidance to all schools, "Social Inclusion: Pupil Support" underlines this approach. The guidance makes clear that while parents should not normally take children out of school for holidays, each request for absence should be considered individually, taking into account factors such as the time of the year proposed for the holiday and the overall attendance pattern of the pupil.
We will continue to talk to ABTA about the issue of family holidays during school term time, and to get the message across to parents that they must consider the impact of absence from school during term time on children's education.