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Anti-anthrax Drugs

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the supply chain, from MOD stockpile to NHS hospitals, of anti- anthrax drugs. [9541]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 22 October 2001]: The Ministry of Defence and the Department of Health have discussed the issue of availability of such treatments and arrangements are in place to allow joint access.

RAF Menwith Hill

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the memorandum of understanding between the UK and US Governments in respect of RAF Menwith Hill was signed; and what expiry date was set for this memorandum. [8772]

Mr. Ingram: The presence of the United States visiting forces in the UK is governed by the NATO Status of Forces Agreement of 1951 and additional confidential arrangements. There is no specific memorandum of understanding governing the presence of the USVF at RAF Menwith Hill.

Operation Enduring Freedom

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what has been the total cost to date of Operation Enduring Freedom; and how much of the total cost has been met from pre-set departmental budgets. [8769]

Mr. Hoon: I will write to the hon. Member. A copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Porton Down

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the states with which reciprocal arrangements exist for the exchange of material and information relating to them held at Porton Down. [8771]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence maintains formal arrangements with a number of different countries relating to the exchange of material and information resulting from research at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down. The relevant countries are the United States of America, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. These arrangements are of the enabling type and do not commit the UK to specific exchanges. Actual exchanges are entered into only on a case-by-case basis and when it is in the UK's interest to do so. Additionally working groups which may exchange information meet under the auspices of NATO.

These arrangements prevent the unnecessary duplication of research programmes and maximise the potential of advances in protection against the use of chemical and biological agents.

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EDUCATION AND SKILLS

CITB Levy

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills for what reason the CITB levy is imposed on tool hire companies and rental companies who are not engaged wholly or mainly in the construction industry; and if she will make a statement. [8468]

John Healey: The CITB can impose the levy only on employers who are engaged wholly or mainly in construction activities as defined in its governing legislation. This states that construction industry activities include


Contractors' plant is further defined to mean


Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills for what reason the CITB levy is not imposed on builders merchants. [8469]

John Healey: The CITB is able to impose a levy only on employers who are engaged wholly or mainly in construction activities as defined in its governing legislation. Builders merchants are wholly or mainly retailers and retailing is not a construction activity.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when the Government will review the Industrial Training Act 1982 in respect of the CITB; and if she will make a statement. [8470]

John Healey: The Industrial Training Act 1982 does not relate specifically to the CITB. It gives the Secretary of State power to set up industrial training boards, which is given effect by the making of an industrial training order. The order includes a definition of the industry for which the board is to exercise its functions.

The order that set up the CITB is the Industrial Training (Construction Board) Order 1964, most recently amended by the Industrial Training (Construction Board) Order 1964 (Amendment) Order 1992. I have no plans at the present time to review that order but am, of course, always prepared to consider proposals from any sector of the industry.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will assess the case for the tool hire sector's liability to pay the CITB levy; and if she will make a statement. [8471]

John Healey: The Secretary of State does not have the power to assess the case for any sector's liability to pay the CITB levy. Only the CITB has the power to assess liability to pay the levy and this is in respect of an individual construction establishment, not a sector. There is a right of appeal against an assessment to an employment tribunal. A construction establishment is one that is engaged wholly or mainly in the construction industry as defined in the Industrial Training (Construction Board) Order 1964 (Amendment) Order 1992—the order which identifies the activities covered by the CITB.

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Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills for what reason there is no distinction between plant hire and tool hire in respect of the CITB levy. [8472]

John Healey: The Industrial Training (Construction Board) Order 1964 (Amendment) Order 1992 sets out the activities of the construction industry, ie the industry in respect of which the CITB is required to exercise its functions. One of those activities is the hiring out of contractors' plant, which is also further defined in the order as


Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills for what reason there is no opt-out clause for the CITB levy scheme; and if she will make a statement. [8473]

John Healey: The Industrial Training Act 1982—the legislation that governs the functions and operations of industrial training boards (ITBs)—gives an ITB the power to make provision for exempting from the levy employers who make adequate arrangements for training their work force. However it does not require it to do so. The CITB, with the support of the construction industry, has decided not to have a scheme based on exemption. Instead it has opted for a levy/grant system as being the most effective way to ensure that adequate training is carried out. The board does not believe a levy exemption scheme is appropriate for an industry where employers have a mobile work force and fluctuating work loads, making it difficult for them to plan and meet their training needs individually.

Free School Meals

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of children are eligible for free school meals in schools where less than 25 per cent. of the pupils achieve five or more grades A* to C at GCSE. [8842]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The percentage of children known to be eligible for free school meals in mainstream, maintained schools where fewer than 25 per cent. of the pupils achieved five or more grades A* to C at GCSE/GNVQ in January 2001 was 37 per cent.

Student Support

Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on details of the remit of the Government's review of student support. [8886]

Margaret Hodge [holding answer 19 October 2001]: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills announced on 3 October 2001 that she is leading a review of student funding. The reforms will build on the new arrangements for student support introduced by the Government in 1998. It will be conducted in the context of our new goal to get 50 per cent. of people under 30 into Higher Education (HE) by 2010, our ambition to expand access to HE from under-represented groups, and our

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continuing concern to deliver excellence in the HE system. We are therefore reviewing the balance between state funding and the contributions made by students and their families. A wide range of options is being considered and no decision is likely to be announced on the proposals until next year.

Ministerial Visit (Brazil)

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what is (a) the itinerary for and (b) the cost of the visit of the Schools Minister to Brazil of 6 and 7 December. [9887]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: There is no cost and no itinerary as the Schools Minister has no plans to visit Brazil.


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