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Public-private Partnership

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the projects in her Department which have been considered as potential public-private partnerships since 1997 which have not been undertaken because the public sector comparator had a lower net present value than the public-private partnership proposed; and if she will make a statement. [13451]

Mr. Timms: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 13 November 2001, Official Report, column 607W.

Schools PFI projects are not formally approved until a full Outline Business Case (OBC) has been submitted to the Treasury-chaired Project Review Group. This OBC must include a Public Sector Comparator (PSC) and it is a condition of approval that the proposed PFI solution must demonstrate better value for money than the PSC.

Ministerial Visit (Brazil)

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what was the (a) itinerary and (b) cost of the visit of the Schools Minister to Brazil on 6 and 7 December 2000. [10381]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: As the Schools Minister did not visit Brazil on 6th and 7th December 2000 or on any other date, there was no itinerary and no cost.

Class Sizes

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many infants are taught in classes with more than 30 pupils. [15383]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 16 November 2001]: For infant classes taught by one teacher in September 2001, an estimated 8,000 children (0.5 per cent.) were in classes of 31 or more children after allowing for additional pupils scheduled to enter school during the early part of the autumn.

Schools reported nearly 63,300 infant classes taught by one teacher in September 2001. Of these classes, just 239 contained 31 or more pupils. In January 1998 nearly 485,000 infants (29 per cent.) were in classes of 31 or more.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what information she (a) routinely collects and (b) has collected since 1 September on infant class sizes. [15382]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 16 November 2001]: Information about class sizes has been collected from maintained primary and secondary schools as part of the

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Annual Schools Census in January for over 20 years. In order to provide a true representation of the sizes of classes experienced by children, each school is randomly allocated a specific time on the census day at which class sizes should be reported. The current collection asks for the number of pupils, teachers and teaching assistants in the class at the appropriate time and also for its Key Stage and National Curriculum Year Group. The activity in which the class is engaged is also requested.

The September Class Size Count is a separate collection started in 1998, introduced to monitor class sizes at Key Stage one. The statistical method used is the same as in the January Census, but, in order to lessen the burden on schools, information is only collected from primary schools and about classes where the majority of children will reach the appropriate age during the school year. The information required about each class in September 2001 was the number of pupils, teachers and teaching assistants and the activity in which the class was engaged and, for classes of 31 or more, the number of excepted pupils.

Higher Education

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the percentage of school leavers (a) nationally and (b) in the Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland, East constituency who have entered higher education in each of the last four years. [16212]

Margaret Hodge [holding answer 19 November 2001]: Figures for the number of school leavers who go on to higher education are not collated centrally on a constituency basis. The available figures for Great Britain, showing the proportion of under 21 year olds who enter higher education for the first time, are given in the table. There was an increase in the index in 1997–98 related partly to changes in the funding arrangements for higher education, with students choosing to enter HE rather than wait until 1998–99. There was a corresponding reduction in 1998–99 before the entry rates started to increase again in 1999–2000. Between 1997–98 and 2000–01, total HE students in English universities and colleges rose by 83,000.

Age participation index (API)(27) for Great Britain
Percentage

API
1997–9833
1998–9931
1999–200032
2000–01(28)32–34

(27) The API is defined as the number of GB domiciled initial entrants to full-time and sandwich undergraduate HE aged under 21, expressed as a percentage of the average number of 18 and 19 year olds in the population.

(28) Projected: final data on initial entrants are not yet available.


TREASURY

Tax Receipts

Mr. Jack: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will make a statement giving the reasons for not publishing monthly estimates of all forms of tax receipts; [16261]

20 Nov 2001 : Column: 270W

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the right hon. Gentleman to my reply of 14 November 2001, Official Report, column 775W, the answer the Financial Secretary gave him on 20 July under cover of a letter and the letter which the Economic Secretary sent him on 27 September (copies of both of which have been placed in the Library of the House).

Fuel Smuggling

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the volume of motor fuel products smuggled into Northern Ireland in each year since 1997. [15540]

Mr. Boateng: HM Customs and Excise do not have estimates for the amount of fuel entering Northern Ireland as a result of cross-border smuggling. They have assessed the total revenue lost (excise and VAT) through cross-border shopping and smuggling of road fuels in Northern Ireland as about £100 million in 1998. Updated estimates will be presented in the forthcoming pre-Budget report.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what meetings have been held between (a) Ministers and (b) officials and their Irish counterparts to discuss the smuggling of petroleum products into Northern Ireland since May; and if he will make a statement. [15544]

Mr. Boateng: I recently visited the Revenue Commissioner in the Republic of Ireland and, in the absence of the appropriate Minister, had a very productive meeting with the Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners.

UK Customs enjoy a very close relationship with the Revenue Commissioners and the Criminal Assets Bureau in the Republic of Ireland. UK Customs and the Revenue Commissioners of the Republic of Ireland have a Memorandum of Understanding designed to increase the effectiveness of the co-operation. Officials meet on a regular and very frequent basis at policy and operational levels.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many vehicles have been impounded by HM Customs in each year since 1997 for alleged smuggling of petroleum products; and what was the tonnage of fuel carried. [15541]

Mr. Boateng: Customs records of the number of vehicles seized do not disaggregate between the nature of the offences involved in each case. I regret, therefore, that this information is not available.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures he is taking to tackle cross- border smuggling of petroleum products; and if he will make a statement. [15543]

Mr. Boateng: Customs believe the main risk from cross-border smuggling of petroleum products is across the land boundary between the Irish Republic and

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Northern Ireland, and since September 2000 have increased their resources devoted to tackling oils fraud in Northern Ireland by a factor of four.

Customs believe that the threat from cross-border smuggling of petroleum products is limited on the mainland. This assessment has been regularly monitored by a series of joint exercises run by Customs and the police which to date have resulted in limited seizures of illicit fuel.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many successful prosecutions there have been in Northern Ireland in each year since 1997 for smuggling petroleum products into Northern Ireland. [15542]

Mr. Boateng: The number of successful prosecutions in Northern Ireland for oils smuggling is as follows:

YearNumber
1996–970
1997–981
1998–993
1999–20003
2000–011


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