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Further and Higher Education (Cornwall)

Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what developments to increase the provision of further and higher education he plans in Cornwall. [25627]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend announced last November additional funding for further education totalling £83 million. The allocation of funding to individual colleges is the responsibility of the Further Education Funding Council for England, who have a duty to ensure that adequate and sufficient provision is made.

In respect of higher education it is for the Higher Education Funding Council for England, in partnership with institutions, to consider the provision of higher education in Cornwall having regard to national needs.

New Deal

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what discussions his Department has had with the European Commission on the compatibility of the unemployment subsidy in the new deal with EU competition policy. [26224]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The European Commission's guidelines on aid to employment published in 1995 make clear that the Commission is generally sympathetic towards measures which are intended to encourage firms to recruit individuals who have difficulty finding work.

Officials from the Department will be meeting officials from the Commission to inform them about the new deal and answer any questions the Commission may wish to raise.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when the Government proposes to extend the new deal from 18 to 24-year-olds to 25 to 34-year-olds. [26226]

Mr. Andrew Smith: I announced on 5 January that we would develop pilots, for introduction in the autumn, with a view to extending the new deal to people over 25 who have been unemployed for a year or 18 months. These will need to be thoroughly evaluated before decisions can be taken on the time or nature of a full extension.