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Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her estimate of the drop-out rate at each English university for the last year for which figures are available is; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Hodge: The available information on non-completion rates, showing figures for each HE institution in the UK, is contained in ''Performance Indicators in Higher Education'', published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Copies of the latest edition, covering students who entered HE in 1998/99, are available in the House library.
The figures show an overall non-completion rate of 17 per cent., a figure which has stayed roughly constant since 199192. In 2000, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published figures comparing estimates of non-completion in member countries, and these showed that the UK had the second lowest non-completion rate among OECD countries.
Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Advocate-General what steps she is taking to seek clarification of the law in relation to undue delay in trial contrary to Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. 
The Advocate-General: I intervened in the case of R v HMA which is a leading case concerning pre-trial delay. I appeared personally in the case before the Appeal Court in Scotland on 1214 March and before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on 1516 October 2002. Given that the case was only heard last week, it will be some time before the Judicial Committee issues its opinion.
Mrs. Liddell: We have introduced the Minimum Income Guarantee for poorer pensioners; Winter Fuel Payments for people aged 60 and over; free TV licences for the over 75s; and will introduce the new pension credit next year. This will mean that no single pensioner need live on less than #100 a week and no pensioner couple on less than #154 a week.
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Mrs. Liddell: The Government's Consultation Document, ''The Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom: Scotland'' seeks views on a number of important aspects of air services within Scotland including the future development of airports.
These views will help inform the Government's forthcoming Aviation White Paper which will set out the long term strategy to provide the policy and infrastructural framework for the development of air services for all of Scotland over the next 30 years.
HMNB Clyde represents one of, if not the, largest single site industrial employer in Scotland. The decision to base the Astute Class submarines at Faslane with an estimated service life of 20 years, alongside the existing Vanguard Class, will provide long term job security for many of the 5000 Naval Base employees.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what discussions she has had with the Scottish Executive and DEFRA regarding French action in preventing imports of Scottish meat and its effects on the Scottish agriculture industry. 
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Mrs. McGuire: In 2000 (the latest year for which figures are available) the total deployment of defence personnel in Scotland was 24,400 of whom 15,100 were service personnel and 9,300 were civilian employees. This represents around 9.2per cent. of UK defence personnel deployment.
Mrs. McGuire: We are determined to improve take up. The Department for Work and Pensions have established their new Pension Service; we have revised and shortened the claim form for the Minimum Income Guarantee; and we are working with pensioner organisations and local authorities on a range of initiatives.
Mrs. Liddell: The commencement earlier this year of Scotland's new direct ferry link with mainland Europe is a great boost to Scotland's environment with the potential for thousands of miles of lorry trips to be taken off our roads. It is more than just that though; it also improves our competitive position as an exporting nation and as a tourist destination. Exporters now have the option of a direct, regular & reliable route to our key markets in the heart of Europe and I would encourage freight companies to think carefully about making best use of this.
The establishment of this historic new ferry service is yet another example of how effective co-operation between Scottish Ministers and the Government within the devolution settlement is delivering tangible benefits to Scottish people and businesses in their daily lives.
Mrs. McGuire: My right hon. Friend and I have frequent meetings with business and trade union interests. The Government will publish a pensions Green Paper later this year which will initiate a wide-ranging consultation process.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what discussions she has had with the Department for Trade and Industry and the Department for Work and Pensions regarding the Universal Bank. 
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Mr. John Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what discussions she has had with the Department for Trade and Industry and the Department for Work and Pensions regarding the Universal Bank. 
Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what steps she is taking to ensure that the rights of prisoners under Scottish law are considered in the debate on the Future of Europe with reference to the Charter of Fundamental Rights. 
Mrs. Liddell: The Government is committed to maintaining a policy towards the EU that focuses on a Union that is more transparent, accountable, effective, and better able to deliver on issues which matter to its citizens. This provides our focus to the Future of Europe debate.
In the context of the planned enlargement to 25 or more States, the framework for the debate on the Future of Europe amounts to a fundamental re-examination of the institutional architecture of the EU. The Government's priority is to make sure that any eventual changes are designed to make the EU better able to ensure, and more focussed upon, the delivery of results for the people of Europe.
The Government is in regular contact with the devolved administrations, which are involved in the debate on the Future of Europe in line with the terms of the Concordat on the Co-ordination of EU Policy Issues.
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