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28 Nov 2002 : Column 387W—continued

Social Housing

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many households are in the registered social housing landlord sector. [83408]

Mr. McNulty: Housing associations registered with the Housing Corporation house 3,037 million tenants in 1.6 million dwellings.

South West of England Regional Development Agency

Mr. Flook: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many offices the South West Regional Development Agency has outside the UK; how many people are employed in these offices; and what the annual budget is for the overseas offices operated by the agency. [82603]

Alan Johnson: I have been asked to reply.

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The South West of England Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) has one physical office outside the UK in Tokyo, where there are three staff and the budget for which is £325,000 in the current year. SWRDA also has five people in the USA in three locations (three people in Chicago; and one in each of Boston and San Francisco) but these are not physical offices. The budget for the US team is £495,000 for the current year.

SWRDA is also contributing £160,000 this year to the South West UK Brussels office.

Swaminarayan Hindu Mission (Brent)

Keith Vaz: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what representations he has received from the Swaminarayan Hindu Mission concerning their dispute with Brent Council; and if he will make a statement. [82359]

Mr. Leslie: I am not aware of any representation received by the office of the Deputy Prime Minister from the Swaminarayan Hindu mission.

Wakefield Metropolitan District

Jon Trickett: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his estimate is of the retained capital receipts from the sale of council houses by Wakefield metropolitan district council at May 1997; how much has been released since that date and what the value is of unreleased receipts. [83162]

Mr. McNulty: The cumulative net selling price of council housing stock reported by Wakefield MDC between April 1980 and March 1997 was some £118 million. Under capital finance regulations, 25 per cent. of capital receipts arising from stock sales (excluding the value of any related local authority mortgages) are classified as a usable, while the balance is required to be 'set aside' as provision for credit liabilities. Between April 1997 and March 2002, Wakefield reported a further £54 million generated by stock sales.

Allocations to Wakefield under the Capital Receipts Initiative between 1997–98 and 1999–2000 totalled £9.652 million. In addition, Wakefield applied £9.671 million of its usable housing capital receipts (including those arising from the sale of other assets) to fund its housing capital programmes between 1997–98 and 2001–02.


Higher Education Finance

13. Mr. Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the capital requirements of higher education institutions. [81979]

Margaret Hodge: There have been three linked studies into the capital requirements of higher education institutions, covering science research infrastructure, teaching and learning, and arts and humanities. These reports concluded that there were shortfalls of £3.2 billion of investment in science research, £5.3 billion in teaching and learning and £0.5 billion in arts and humanities.

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Primary Schools

14. Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the value of target-setting in primary schools. [81980]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: The value of target setting is evident from the part it has played in the unprecedented success of primary schools in raising standards of literacy and numeracy. Since the introduction of the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategies schools have achieved a 10 per cent. point improvement in the number of 11-year-olds achieving the expected level in English, and 14 per cent. point improvement in mathematics. This year's results taken together were the best ever.

Top-up Fees

15. Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on his policy on the introduction of top-up fees for higher education. [81981]

Margaret Hodge: I refer the hon. Member to the oral reply given earlier today by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills to the hon. Member for Barnsley Central (Mr. Illsley), Official Report, column 448.

School Exclusions

16. Mr. John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on his policy on school exclusions. [81982]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: The Department's Circular 10/99—Social Inclusion: Pupil Support contains the Secretary of State's guidance on the appropriate use of exclusion—both fixed term and permanent, procedures to be followed on exclusion and provides guidance on the duties and roles of those involved in the process. My right hon. Friend will issue revised guidance when new arrangements for exclusions are put in place under the Education Act 2002.

Maths Teachers

17. Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on progress towards the Government's targets for recruiting trainee mathematics teachers in 2002. [81983]

Mr. Miliband: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Mr. Willis), on 18 November 2002, Official Report, column 32W.


18. Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to assist United Kingdom universities to become centres of excellence. [81984]

Margaret Hodge: There is already excellence within our universities—in research, teaching, linking with business and working in the community. We want to make sure that excellence is recognised, incentivised and rewarded. Our Strategy Document, to be published in January, will set out in detail how we propose to do this.

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28. Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent representations he has received about the special payments to universities in respect of pupils resident in specified postcode areas. [81994]

Margaret Hodge: My right hon. Friend receives representations about a range of higher education issues. Universities and colleges incur additional costs in recruiting, teaching and supporting students from non-traditional backgrounds. The funding they receive from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) in respect of these costs is the 'postcode premium'. HEFCE is currently reviewing this funding and has consulted on a range of options.

29. Rob Marris : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to change the minimum full time salary level paid to a university lecturer after five years service. [81995]

Margaret Hodge: The pay of higher education staff is negotiated between employers, their staff and their representative trade union bodies. This is not an issue for the Government, but in the spending review for the years 2001–02, 2002–03 and 2003–04 we provided £330 million to underpin universities' human resource strategies. This was to help institutions recruit, retain and develop the staff they need to improve further the quality of teaching and learning and to modernise management and reward systems.

31. Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he will take to ensure that there is an increase in the number of university students from low income backgrounds. [81997]

Margaret Hodge: We are determined to encourage more young people from lower income backgrounds to enter higher education. Our secondary school reforms will help raise participation and attainment levels so that more young people will be eligible to benefit from higher education. We have committed over £190 million over three years to the Excellence Challenge to raise aspirations and attainment of young people in some of the most deprived areas of the country. This includes making available 25,000 Opportunity Bursaries to encourage young students from low-income families into higher education. Young people in schools and further education colleges in Excellence Challenge areas continue to benefit from the AimHigher road show, which was launched earlier this year to promote higher education.

Our review of higher education which will be published in January will reflect our continued commitment to widening participation in higher education.

Schools (Regulation)

19. Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he next expects to meet representatives of teacher unions to discuss the burden of regulation in schools. [81985]

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26. Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what recent discussions he has had with teachers' representatives on the number of directives issued to schools since 1997. [81992]

Mr. Miliband: I will be meeting representatives of teacher unions shortly to discuss our work force proposals. These include the establishment of an Implementation Review Unit, featuring a panel of experienced serving practitioners, to improve policy implementation and reduce bureaucratic burdens.

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