§ Mrs. Curtis-Thomas
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many(a) men and (b) women in (i) the UK and (ii) Sefton lack basic (1) reading, (2) writing and (3) mathematics skills. 
§ Mr. Ivan Lewis
The International Adult Literacy Survey in 1996 suggested that in Great Britain' there are 3.8 million men (21 per cent.) and 4.1million women (22 per cent.) between the ages of 16 and 65 who performed at the lowest level in literacy and 3.2 million men (18 per cent.) and 5.2 million women (29 per cent.) who performed at the lowest level in numeracy. The Department does not have available regional or local level statistics on literacy and numeracy levels.
The Department has commissioned a new representative sample survey of working age adults in England to provide an up-to-date assessment of the scale of literacy and numeracy need. These estimates will be mapped to the new national basic skills standards, will allow analysis by Government Office Region, and will be published in autumn 2003.
IALS data are not available for the UK.