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New Deal (Costs)

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what has been the total cost of implementing and running the New Deal in Scotland since January 1998. [74982]

Mr. Dewar: Expenditure to the end of January 1999 on the New Deal programmes for 18 to 24-year-olds and for those aged 25 and over was £12.97 million.

Student Finance

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will estimate, for each of the next 10 years, the annual cost of abolishing tuition fees for Scottish students at all UK universities on (a) a cash accounting basis and (b) a resource accounting basis; and if he will make a statement. [74562]

Mrs. Liddell [holding answer 5 March 1999]: No separate estimates have been made for tuition fee income from students at universities as requested. The table provides estimates for fees income from Scottish higher education students at higher education institutions and further education colleges for the years 1998-99 to 2001-02 only.

9 Mar 1999 : Column: 143

Scottish and EU (13) students contribution to UK higher education institutions and further education colleges

£ million
1998-9918
1999-200029
2000-0136
2001-0238

(13) EU students are included as they have to be treated in the same way as Scottish students

Note:

Figures are at current prices


The figures show the estimated total cash transfer from Scottish (and EU) students to institutions in each year. If this cash transfer is not made each year, that funding would have to be met from central Government current resources. The figures for annual costs would be the same on a resource accounting basis as on a cash accounting basis. The estimates assume other student support remains unchanged.

From 1 July 1999, this will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

Public Appointments

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list by region the number of appointments of which he has (a) made personally and (b) been consulted on; and if he will list for those appointments the political affiliations of the successful candidates. [74992]

Mr. Dewar [holding answer 5 March 1999]: I have made some 550 appointments to public bodies in Scotland since May 1997 and am also consulted on an on-going basis about appointments to GB or UK bodies operating in Scotland. All appointments are made in accordance with Nolan principles involving selection on merit and independent scrutiny of candidates. Where bodies do not have purely local remits I make an effort to ensure as wide a geographical representation as possible. Candidates for public appointments are not required to state their political affiliation.

From 1 July 1999, this will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

Bed Blocking

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many patients (a) in each health board area and (b) nationally were retained past their original discharge date in NHS beds before moving to social service beds in the last year for which figures are available; and if he will estimate the cost of the NHS of this delayed discharge. [75067]

Mr. Galbraith [holding answer 5 March 1999]: Information to a consistent definition is not currently available. A Working Group of representatives from The Scottish Office, Health Boards, NHS Trusts and Local Authorities is developing arrangements to enable data to be recorded on a consistent basis. These arrangements will be piloted in Scotland from April 1999. Standardised information should be recorded throughout Scotland from April 2000.

From 1 July 1999, this will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

9 Mar 1999 : Column: 144

Teachers (In-service Training)

Mrs. Laing: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many days of in-service training are provided for (a) primary and (b) secondary school teachers in each local authority area per year. [74639]

Mrs. Liddell: Under the current Scheme of Salaries and Conditions of Service for teachers employed in education authority-controlled schools there is provision for a maximum of 5 working days out of the school year to be spent on planned activities such as in-service training. The timing and planning of such dates are drawn up by the headteacher in consultation with staff, and within guidelines provided by the local authority.

As from 1 July 1999, this will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

Right to Buy

Mr. Russell Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he will announce the results of the public consultation on proposed changes to the Right to Buy Cost Floor Rules in Scotland; and if he will make a statement. [76122]

Mr. Macdonald: We received 38 responses to the consultation paper which was issued in February 1998, the majority of which were broadly supportive of the proposals outlined in the paper. Having considered the comments received, I have today laid before Parliament a Statutory Instrument which will extend the cost floor period in Scotland from 5 to 10 years with effect from 1 April 1999. This change will protect for a longer period investment made by landlords in their housing stock.

A separate Determination will also be issued which will set out in detail how landlords should calculate the cost floor in future. This will also introduce a new threshold, which will allow landlords to include significant repairs and maintenance costs within the calculation of the cost floor. The changes will affect both local authorities and other landlords whose tenants have a Preserved Right to Buy.

From 1 July 1999, this will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Zimbabwe

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to her answer of 26 February 1999, Official Report, column 456, how long she spent in Zimbabwe in January 1998; and if she will list the people she met. [75763]

Clare Short: The visit took less than a day. The purpose was to meet the staff of my Department in Harare. As I stated in my answer of 1 March 1999, Official Report, column 582, I also met the right hon. Herbert Murerwa, Zimbabwean Minister of Finance.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when the detailed country strategy paper on Zimbabwe will be published. [75764]

9 Mar 1999 : Column: 145

Clare Short: We expect to publish our Country Strategy Paper for Zimbabwe next month.

Biological Resources (Patents)

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the implications for poorer countries of the patents granted within the United States on (a) quinoa, (b) the neem tree, (c) j'oublie and (d) basmati. [74847]

Clare Short: We have made no assessment of the implications for developing countries of the patents granted for quinoa, the neem tree, j'oublie and basmati by the United States.

Patents can have only national effects and as such are effective only against acts within the jurisdiction concerned, in these cases the US. They have no power elsewhere. The owner of a patent can prevent the use of the protected material by others within the state concerned, including imports based on the protected technology.

Patents can protect only new technology, not natural discoveries nor existing technology and can be challenged in the courts where they are invalid.

ENVIRONMENT, TRANSPORT AND THE REGIONS

Integrated Transport Commission

18. Mr. Walter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he will bring forward plans to implement his integrated transport policy; and if he will make a statement. [73430]

Dr. Reid: We are already implementing our integrated transport policy. We are investing an extra £1.8 billion in integrated transport, and local transport plans--the key tool for making it happen--will be in place this summer.

Council Tax

19. Mr. Gill: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the effect of the local government settlement for 1999-2000 on council tax levels. [73431]

Ms Armstrong: Decisions on the level of council tax are a matter for each authority. Our settlement provides that if local authorities increased their budgets in line with SSAs, council taxes would rise by 4.5 per cent. on average.

33. Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement about council tax levels in 1999-2000. [73445]

Ms Armstrong: Decisions on the level of council tax are a matter for each authority.

Mrs. Shephard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will place in the Library a table showing for each notifiable authority in England, the band D council tax for 1999-2000; and the level of increase over 1998-99, expressed (a) in cash terms and (b) as a percentage. [75547]

9 Mar 1999 : Column: 146

Ms Armstrong: I refer the right hon. Member to my reply given to the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) on 3 March 1999, Official Report, column 733.


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