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Beverley Hughes: One of the immediate objectives of the Prisoners' Learning and Skills Unit is to increase the proportion of prisoners leaving custody with acceptable literacy and numeracy skills to help them resettle into the community and gain employment on release. The most recent basic skills Level 2 data shows that the Prison Service has achieved 14,400 qualifications in 200102, which is 80 per cent. of the final target. We are taking action to improve reading and writing by running basic skills pathfinder projects in seven prisons as part of a wider national project to pilot new national tests and standards, and we are developing innovative approaches to the delivery of basic skills which include using popular subjects, such as drama, art and physical education.
Angela Eagle [holding answer 10 April 2002]: The 10-year passport is the international standard agreed with the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The United Kingdom Passport Service also issues passports valid for five years to children aged under 16. The one-year British
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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the running costs were of (a) her Ministers' private offices, separately identifying expenditure on staff and (b) her Department in each year from May 1997 to the nearest date for which the information is available. 
Ms Hewitt: The Appropriation accounts published by my Department for 199798, 199899, 19992000 and 200001 show total running costs for my Department and its agencies of £398 million, £419 million, £450 million and £484 million respectively.
£4.2 million (199899) of which staff costs totalled £2.26 million.
£3.4 million (19992000) of which staff costs totalled £1.94 million.
£3.6 million (200001) of which staff costs totalled £2.08 million.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how much was spent by Ministers in her Department on food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for entertainment purposes in each of the last five years; 
Ms Hewitt [holding answer 10 April 2002]: The total cost of entertainmentincluding food, alcohol and non-alcoholic drink for each of the last five years is as follows. These figures combine total costs for Ministers' offices and special advisers.
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Complete data are not yet available for 200102.
Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the outcome was of the Telecommunications Council held in Brussels on 25 to 26 March; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if she will make a statement. 
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Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry for what reason no devolved Administration Minister attended the 2417 European Union Council of Ministers (Research) meeting on 11 March; which suggestions and matters of concern from the Scottish Executive were raised in their absence by the UK Government delegation; and what information and evidence was provided by her Department to enable effective post-council scrutiny by the European Committee of the Scottish Parliament. 
Ms Hewitt: There was no requirement for a devolved Administration Minister to attend the Council of Ministers research meeting on 11 March. No suggestions or matters of concern from the Scottish Executive were raised in their absence by the UK Government delegation. In developing the UK Government's position on European research issues, the Office of Science and Technology regularly consults the devolved Administrations. It is the responsibility of the European Committee of the Scottish Parliament to scrutinise the Scottish Executive's involvement in EU Council meetings. These arrangements are a matter for the Committee and the Scottish Executive. My Department provides information to Scottish Executive officials as part of that process.
Mr. Alexander [holding answer 18 April 2002]: This is a matter which falls within the day to day responsibility of Consignia and I have therefore asked the chief executive to reply direct to the hon. Member.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the sub-post offices which have closed since May 1997, indicating for each (a) whether it is rural or urban, (b) whether it is in an area of deprivation and (c) the distance to and name of the nearest sub-post office to that which closed. 
Mr. Alexander [holding answer 18 April 2002]: This is a matter that falls within the day to day responsibility of Consignia and I have therefore asked the Chief Executive to reply direct to the hon. Member.
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Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether SEEDA has undertaken an audit of the infrastructure needs of the communities of the North Kent Coast, with particular reference to the constituency of Sittingbourne and Sheppey. 
Alan Johnson: SEEDA has funded the preparation of an Area Investment Framework for the Thames Gateway in north Kent. This covers includes Sittingbourne and Sheppey at the eastern end of the area. The work includes an audit of infrastructure needs. The Area Investment Framework will be launched at a conference held in Gravesend on 23 April, and thereafter will be carried forward by the Thames Gateway Kent Partnership.
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the priorities in respect of radioactive waste research set out in the European Commission's Multi-Annual Framework Programme for Research, COM (2001) 94 Final. 
The Government are playing an active role in the negotiations on the content and priorities of the Multi-Annual Framework Programme 200206 of the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) for research and training, in order to ensure that it reflects UK priorities as far as possible. Radioactive waste research at an EU level will complement research in the UK into the wider range of waste management options described in the consultation document "Managing Radioactive Waste Safely" issued in September last year.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what technical support contracts were awarded by the Health and Safety Executive between 1 January and 31 December 1999. 
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 26 March 2002, Official Report, column 983W, on HSE, what technical support services were provided by each of the suppliers referred to in annexe 1 under the framework agreement. 
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