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Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) farms and (b) farm closures there were in each constituency in each year since 1990. 
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Mr. Morley: Figures showing the number of farms in each constituency for 1990, 1995 and 2000 are being made available in the House of Commons Library. Figures are not readily available for the years in between. Information on the number of farm closures in each constituency is not available.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list each of the overseas trips made by herself and other members of her ministerial team in each of the last four years, specifying the purpose and cost of each trip. 
Mr. Morley: I refer to the hon. Member to the reply given to him by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister on 4 February 2002, Official Report, column 707W.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of people in Bassetlaw have attended higher education; and what the national average is. 
Margaret Hodge: The latest available figures from the local area labour force survey show that, in 200001, 18.3 per cent. of people of working age resident in the constituency of Bassetlaw held a qualification at degree level (or equivalent) or above, compared to 23.3 per cent. in the United Kingdom.
Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many representations she has received since 1997 from (a) education bodies and groups, (b) hon. Members and (c) members of the public concerning tuition fees for students; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Hodge: Since 1 April 2000 the Department has received 103 letters from hon. Members and 421 letters from members of the public about tuition fees in higher education. We cannot give a breakdown of how many letters on this subject were received from education bodies and groups. Prior to 1 April 2000, no centralised electronic record was kept and we cannot therefore give reliable information.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced a review of higher education student finance in October. In view of the benefits conferred on individuals by higher education, the Government believe it is right for students and their families to contribute to the cost. We are re-examining the balance of contributions between the state, the students and their families to ensure that we have appropriate arrangements in place to expand participation to 50 per cent. of those aged 1830 by 2010.
Dr. Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on Government policy relating to widening participation in higher education. 
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Margaret Hodge: The Government's policy is to increase participation so that by the end of the decade, 50 per cent. of 18 to 30 year olds have the opportunity to experience higher education. As part of this objective, the Government intend to widen participation to those groups traditionally under-represented in higher education. We have taken a number of steps to support our policy. They include the Excellence Challenge programme, targeted at raising the aspirations of young people from our cities, educational maintenance allowances introduced in pilot areas to encourage greater staying-on and attainment rates post-16; policy to raise levels at 16 and 18, by driving up standards in secondary schools; the Connexions Service, to ensure that young people get the advice and support they need to achieve; and new qualifications in school, college and university to expand choices of study.
Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many universities had agreed a target for widening participation by 31 December 2001. 
Margaret Hodge: 122 of the 126 higher education institutions that were required by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to submit widening participation strategies, have agreed their targets with the funding council. HEFCE is working with the four outstanding institutions to agree their targets and we expect those targets to be agreed as soon as possible.
Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what financial penalties she plans to impose on institutions which do not agree targets on widening participation in university education. 
Margaret Hodge: The funding of individual higher education institutions, and the terms and conditions of grant, are matters for the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). In HEFCE circular 01/29, the Funding Council stated that:
Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidance she has given HEFCE on promoting wider participation in university education. 
Margaret Hodge: The guidance, which the Secretary of State has provided to HEFCE was outlined in the grant letter of 29 November 2001 to the council, a copy of which can be found in the Commons Library. This guidance emphasises the importance given to the Government's commitment to widen participation and to meet their target of ensuring that 50 per cent. of young people should have the opportunity to benefit from higher education by the time they reach 30 years of age.
Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate she has made of the cost of meeting the Government's target on widening participation in university education. 
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Margaret Hodge: The Government are committed to increasing and widening participation. Costs are being considered as part of the spending review. The outcome of the spending review will be made public in the summer.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what has been the average annual leave entitlement of staff in her Department in each of the last four years. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Since 1 April 2000 all staff outside of the senior civil service have been entitled to 25 days annual leave on appointment, rising to 30 days after 10 years' service.
Between 1 August 1998 and 31 March 2000, staff up to and including Higher Executive Officer (HEO) were entitled to 25 days on appointment. Staff in grades up to and including HEO equivalent qualified for 30 days entitlement after 15 years' service. Staff at Senior Executive Officer (SEO)Grade 6 continued to qualify for 30 days after 10 years service.
Prior to 1 August 1998, staff in grades up to and including HEO equivalent received 22 days entitlement on appointment, rising to 25 days after one year. Staff in grades at SEOGrade 6 received 25 days on appointment. Staff in grades up to Executive Officer (EO) equivalent qualified for 30 days entitlement after 20 years' service, staff at HEO equivalent qualified for 30 days after 15 years' service, and SEOGrade 6 qualified for 30 days after 10 years' service.
Annual leave entitlement for members of the senior civil service is set at 30 days and has been for the last four years.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what grants and loans are available to a higher education non-home student living and studying outside London, with parents (a) who are each earning £20,000 a year and are divorced, (b) who are each earning £20,000 a year and are married and (c) one whom is earning £40,000 a year and the other of whom earns nothing. 
Margaret Hodge [holding answer 1 February 2002]: The starting point for assessment of student support is the parents' gross taxable income. This is reduced by certain allowances, largely pension contributions that qualify for tax relief, to produce a residual income. In the case of divorced or separated parents, local education authorities will normally base the assessment on the parent's residual income with whom the student lives.
In 200102 academic year, a student who was living away from the parental home, studying outside London, whose parent's residual income is £20,000 a year would be eligible to receive a public contribution of £1,030 towards their tuition fees and a student loan of £3,815.
A student with the same circumstances but whose parents are married and have a combined residual income of £40,000 would be liable to meet the full cost of tuition fees of £1,075 but would be eligible to receive a student loan of £2,860. The same level of support would also be available to a student where one parent had a residual
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income of £40,000 a year and the other parent had no income as the public support we provide is based on joint parental income.
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