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12 Jun 2003 : Column 1024W—continued

Paratrooper Andrew Kelly

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what investigation has been conducted into the circumstances of the death of Paratrooper Andrew Kelly in army barracks in Basra on 8 May. [118636]

Dr. Moonie: Paratrooper Andrew Kelly died on 6 May 2003 in Iraq. This incident is subject to an on-going investigation by the Royal Military Police and a Board of Inquiry.

Prague Capabilities Commitment

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what commitments the Government have made regarding improvements in military capabilities in providing deployable forces under the Prague Capabilities Commitment. [117908]

Mr. Hoon: The United Kingdom has consistently made a strong contribution towards the improvement of NATO's capabilities. Our commitments to the Prague Capabilities Commitment are aimed at improving the deployability, sustainability and effectiveness of our armed forces. In particular, we have made commitments in NBC protection equipment, deployable Combat Service Support, secure Communication and Information systems and strategic air and sealift.

In addition to these national commitments, we are participating in multinational efforts to address shortfalls in NATO capability, and in this regard are leading a group looking at chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence.

Royal Anglian Regiment

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list by each Government region the regiments historically attached to cities and counties in that region. [118715]

Dr. Moonie: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the types of weapons of mass destruction in the possession of Her Majesty's Government. [117922]

Mr. Hoon: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 22 May 2002, Official Report, column 367W to my hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Llew Smith).


"Friends of Scotland"

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if she will make a statement on the outcomes achieved by her "Friends of Scotland" initiative. [118332]

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Mrs. Liddell: "Friends of Scotland" aims to highlight contemporary Scotland's strengths internationally and to harness the considerable goodwill towards Scotland that exists in many countries. It is now successfully established as an active, worldwide network of influential individuals.

Many of the signed up Friends are setting up their own local networks of contacts who are working to enhance the perception of Scotland overseas.

The website has proved highly successful in highlighting Scottish achievements in the fields of culture, education and business.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many staff have been employed in the Ministerial Correspondence Unit of the Department in each of the last two years. [115880]

Mrs. Liddell: In each of the last two years my Department has employed two full-time equivalent staff in the Ministerial Correspondence Unit, although staff also undertake other administrative duties.

Electoral Boundaries

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when she last met representatives of Scottish local authorities to discuss boundaries for the next general election in Scotland. [118333]

Mrs. Liddell: It would not be appropriate for me to meet representatives of Scottish local authorities to discuss boundaries for the next general election in Scotland. Such matters fall within the responsibilities of the wholly independent Boundary Commission for Scotland. I have a specific statutory role in relation to the laying of Parliamentary Orders implementing final recommendations from the Commission.

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what her assessment is of the latest date on which new boundary proposals for Scotland would have to be laid before the House if electoral arrangements are to be in place for the next general election. [118334]

Mrs. Liddell: I am unable to make such an assessment as this would depend on when the next general election is held. The Boundary Commission must report to me by December 2006.

Parliamentary Questions

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland pursuant to her written answer of 15 May 2003, Official Report, column 367W, what the reason was for the delay in responding substantively to the written question set down for answer on 20 March. [115798]

Mrs. Liddell: The timetable for publishing departmental reports is set by the Treasury. Information about the publication date for the Scotland Office report was not available at the time of the original question.

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School Transport

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent assessment has been made of evacuation procedures on buses taking pupils to and from school. [118034]

Mr. Charles Clarke: None. School transport safety over and above the legal minimum is a matter for individual LEAs, consequently no national assessment has been made. All buses and coaches must have clearly signed Emergency Exits. While children are, occasionally, required to evacuate home to school transport quickly, I am not aware of any problems that have arisen during that process. Nevertheless, schools and local education authorities should consider the benefits of carrying out regular evacuation drills in collaboration with bus operators, so that pupils know what to do in an emergency.


Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of British adults had the lowest (a) numeracy and (b) literacy levels as defined by the OECD in each year since 1997. [118634]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The most recent information available on adult numeracy and literacy levels is from the International Adult Literacy Study (IALS), which was carried out in 1996.

The study indicated that:

    (b) 22 per cent. of adults aged 16–65 in Great Britain had poor literacy skills

The IALS data from 1996 is published annually in the OECD publication "Education at a Glance". There are no data available for 1997 or for subsequent years.

The Department has commissioned a new representative sample survey of working age adults in England to provide an up-to-date assessment of the scale of literacy and numeracy need. These estimates will be mapped to the new national basic skills standards and will be published in autumn 2003.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will place in the Library a copy of the Go-Karts video of the Early Literacy Support programme. [117184]

Maria Eagle: Yes. A copy will be placed in the House of Commons Library.

Civil Servants

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many civil servants are predicted to be employed in the Department in (a) 2003–04, (b) 2004–05 and (c) 2005–06. [117762]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The information requested (which is contained in Annex F of the Departmental Report 2003) is set out in the following table.

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2003–04 plans2004–05 plans2005–06 plans
Civil Service full-time equivalents4,5924,5774,527

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many civil servants' advisers have been employed by his Department in each of the years from 1997–98 to 2002–03; and what their median and weighted mean salary was. [117763]

Mr. Charles Clarke: My Department has not employed any civil servants' advisers in any of the years from 1997–98 to 2002–03.

Document Costs

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to his answer of 22 May 2003, Official Report, column 1002W, on document costs, what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of publications which were not handled through the Department's publicity division in each of the last five years for which information is available. [118605]

Mr. Stephen Twigg [holding answer 10 June 2003]: The Department produces a large number of publications each year, ranging from small leaflets to larger booklets. The large majority of these are related to information or guidance on specific areas of policy, targeted at practitioners or stakeholders such as schools, LEAs, school governors, etc.

The Department's publicity division uses a bespoke financial management system, which records expenditure through their system of framework contracts with a range of suppliers of paid publicity services which is categorised according to media, including design and print.

Expenditure by individual policy teams which is not processed through the publicity division system is not categorised in the same way, (although the same framework contracts are used), and therefore the information requested on document costs produced through them is not available.

There has been no change to the way the Department produces or procures its publications in the past five years. We have a duty to consult on and inform our customers, stakeholders and interest groups of policy changes and developments. The volume, and by implication the level of expenditure, is largely dependent on the level of activity on policy initiatives which the Department needs to communicate to these groups.

The Department operates under strict targets to control and reduce the number of paper-based communication to schools and LEAs to help reduce the bureaucratic burden. In the current academic year (September 2002 to July 2003), the volume of printed material sent directly to schools is on course to be reduced by 50 per cent. against the corresponding figure sent to schools in the last academic year.

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