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Nigerian Trade Fairs

Mr. Tony Lloyd: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the agreed priority sectors from the United Kingdom for Nigerian regional trade fairs in February and March 1996; and who are (a) the bankers and (b) the sponsors of the event. [3109]

Mr. Oppenheim: The British high commission is proposing to take a stand at two regional trade fairs in Nigeria in February and March 1996. My Department and the high commission have invited UK companies to exhibit their brochures on the stands. This invitation has been targeted at companies involved in oil and gas, agriculture--agricultural equipment, water and water treatment, food processing, power generation/distribution, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals. There is no UK sponsorship of either trade fair.

Channel 5

Mr. Robert McCartney: To ask the President of the Board of Trade for what reasons the range of the proposed transmissions of Channel 5 within Northern Ireland has been restricted. [3168]

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Mr. Ian Taylor: The coverage plan for Channel 5 is the responsibility of the Independent Television Commission. Limitations on the range of the transmissions are required to avoid causing interference to other television services, and other radiocommunication services, in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

Greenbury Report

Mr. David Nicholson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what are his proposals for implementing such recommendations of the Greenbury report as require action or assistance from Her Majesty's Government. [3080]

Mr. Lang: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester, North (Mr. Jenkin) on 7 November 1995, Official Report, columns 702-4.

Employment Agency Licensing Division

Mr. Steen: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the annual income of the employment agency licensing division arising from (a) fees, (b) charges and (c) fines; what was the total number of staff employed (i) part time and (ii) full time; and what contribution his Department has made towards the annual running costs in each of the past three years. [2751]

Mr. Lang [holding answer 28 November 1995]: The licensing requirements of the Employment Agencies Act 1973 were abolished on 3 January 1995. Fees for licenses issued under the Act and fines imposed by magistrates courts for offences against the Act were paid to the Consolidated Fund. They could therefore not be set against departmental expenditure.

Fees paidFines imposed

(5) To 3 January 1995 only.

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Staff employed on administering the 1973 Act in 1992-93 and 1993-94 were 50.5 and 51.5 respectively. During 1994-95 the number fell to 35. The number of part-time staff did not exceed five at any time in the three years.

Power Cables

Ms Lynne: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what consideration he has given to introducing a statutory requirement on electricity companies to pay compensation to householders living beneath power cables where it can be proved that householders have faced (a) a decline in the value of their property and (b) a deterioration in their health. [1962]

Mr. Eggar [holding answer 27 November 1995]: The Government have no plans to introduce such a requirement.

With regard to item (a), I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to her by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment on 27 November 1995, Official Report, column 422.

With regard to item (b), the National Radiological Protection Board advises the Government on scientific matters relating electromagnetic fields to alleged effects on human health. To date, there is insufficient scientific evidence to establish a link between electromagnetic fields and cancer or leukaemia, the diseases of most concern, or to any other serious illness.

Foreign Assets

Mr. Tony Lloyd: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if his Department has seized or frozen personal accounts and assets of members of foreign Governments; what was seized or frozen; and if he will make a statement. [2918]

Sir Nicholas Bonsor: I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Gentlemen to the answer given to his previous question on 27 November, Official Report, column 429.

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Student Loans

Mr. Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if she will make a statement on the support that will be available to students through mandatory awards and student loans in the academic year 1996-97. [3499]

Mr. Forth: My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on 28 November that the total level of support available to students through the main rates of grant and loan together in 1996-97 will be 2.6 per cent. higher than for 1995-96, in line with forecast price increases. I am placing a memorandum in the Library giving full details of the new grant and fee rates for 1996-97. These rates will be incorporated in the Education (Student Loans) Regulations to be laid before Parliament in due course.

Assisted Places Scheme

Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what detailed arrangements she proposes for expanding the assisted places scheme. [3500]

Mrs. Gillian Shephard: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced on 13 October that the assisted places scheme is to be doubled in size. I am today announcing the plans for implementation in England. My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Wales and Scotland will make statements about the arrangements for their schemes.

The pace of this expansion over time will depend on the supply of eligible high-quality places and on parental demand. This Department is inviting bids from independent schools--whether they are already participating in the scheme or not--for the first instalment of new places in September 1996. We look forward to receiving bids for:

To be eligible, schools must provide a broad-balanced curriculum, have an excellent record of GCSE and A-level performance and maintain a strong sixth form. I will also be seeking an equitable distribution between boys and girls, and will especially welcome bids from schools serving inner-city areas.

The scheme will continue to be aimed at able children from low-income families who would not otherwise have had the opportunity of the education offered in these schools. Schools will continue to select pupils according to their own academic entry criteria and the general eligibility conditions prescribed in the regulations. I will encourage them to give priority to those with potential to benefit from the distinctive facilities the school offers, including where appropriate pupils from inner-city areas and the ethnic minority communities.

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I intend to continue the present broad framework of means-tested parental contributions towards approved fees. The arrangements for means testing and fee setting are reviewed annually for the purpose of the regulations, and I will consider any representations on these matters for the reviews in 1996 and subsequent years.

I aim to announce the successful bidders for the first instalment of new places early in 1996, and to ensure that parents are fully aware of the new opportunities open to them. I am confident that they will widely welcome the expansion of choice, diversity and excellence which this initiative offers.

Doncaster and Mexborough Jobcentre

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment for what reason the reply in respect of jobcentres in Doncaster and Mexborough, from her chief executive of the Employment Service referred to in her answer of 23 October, was not published in the Official Report as well; and if she will make a statement. [1103]

Mr. Forth: I regret the fact that, due to an administrative error in the Department, the reply was not published in the Official Report. A copy of the chief executive's reply to the hon. Member has now been placed in the Library.

Expenditure, Calderdale

Sir Donald Thompson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what proportion of Calderdale's (a) total and (b) secondary education sector is grant maintained; and what proportion of total public expenditure on education in Calderdale is in the grant-maintained sector. [1467]

Mr. Robin Squire: According to the local education authority's expenditure return for 1993-94, the latest year for which figures are available, the proportion of local authority net recurrent expenditure, which was allocated as recurrent funding to grant-maintained schools in Calderdale was 11 per cent. NRE is gross expenditure on schools, continuing education and management and support services related to education, minus income other than that in the form of specific grants and excluding capital. The percentage figures also includes special purpose grants paid to grant-maintained schools by the Funding Agency for Schools.

The proportion of pupils in grant-maintained schools as at January 1994 in Calderdale was (a) 15 per cent. of the total and (b) 35 per cent. of the secondary sector. At January 1995 the proportions were (a) 26 per cent. and (b) 56 per cent.

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