§ Mr. cousins
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many and what percentage of children received free school meals in LEA and LEA-supported schools in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne from 1995 to 2000. 
§ Mr. Wicks
[holding answer 21 February 2000]: If we are to improve our international competitiveness and create a truly inclusive society, it is important that we ensure equality of opportunity in all sectors of education and training.
We made clear in the Learning and Skills Council Prospectus that we want the Council to ensure that high quality opportunities are available to meet the needs of all learners across the range of abilities and aptitudes, including the very able. We will expect the Council to build equality of opportunity into all its policies, programmes and actions, working closely with key equality organisations including the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Commission for Racial Equality and the Disability Rights Commission which is being set up in April 2000.
In November, we asked the Higher Education Funding Council for England to ensure that all higher education institutions have equal opportunities statements and they are accountable for their full and proper implementation. We placed particular emphasis on seeing that institutions make progress on racial equality for staff.
We are determined to make increased participation by people who have been traditionally under-represented a priority for the expansion of post-secondary education, which is receiving record levels of funding.