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22 Jan 2004 : Column 1402W—continued

Security Passes

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many security passes have been reported (a) lost and (b) stolen by staff in his Department in the last 12 months. [147980]

Hilary Benn: Staff in my department have reported losing 39 staff security passes during 2003. In addition a further four have been reported lost as a result of burglaries and theft of handbags and jackets outside of the office.

St. Helena (Airport)

Mr. MacDougall: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on constructing an airport on St. Helena. [150097]

Hilary Benn: The response to an international invitation, which had sought outline proposals for private sector participation and investment in possible development of air access, is being considered in consultation with the St Helena Government. An expert assessment of four expressions of interest in the possible venture was received last month. As the next step, we shall soon decide whether any or all of the existing proposals offer a suitable basis for proceeding further.

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World Trade Organisation

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with the Director General of the World Trade Organisation since 15 December 2003. [149069]

Hilary Benn: I have had no discussions with the WTO Director General, though the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has.

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Transport Infrastructure Projects

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the five largest major or national transport infrastructure projects which his Department is funding are. [149169]

Hilary Benn: The five largest major transport and infrastructure projects which my Department is funding are listed as follows:

Project titleCountryValue(£ million)Purpose
Rural Access ProgrammeNepal33To improve poor people's access to the goods and services that they value in targeted hill areas through an improvement in basic transport, an increase in access for rural populations and the development of a strategy for the future organisation of infrastructure development in these areas.
Support to Rural Feeder RoadsGhana27To improve access to services and markets in rural areas resulting from development of a sustainable rural road network.
Bhairab bridgeBangladesh22To facilitate accelerated economic growth and reduced poverty in North East Bangladesh by the construction of a 4 lane road bridge over the Meghna river.
Institutional Dev Comp of Road Rehabilitation II & IIIBangladesh19To reduce the total cost of road transport by improving the road network through more effective design and construction of roads and more effective programming and implementation of road maintenance and improvement of operations of the Road Highways Department.
Rural Transport Project Phase IIVietnam19To ensure an increased flow of people, goods and services in rural Vietnam by improving basic access for rural areas and providing a strategy for sustainable maintenance of rural roads nation wide


Classroom Assistants

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many classroom assistants were employed in schools in Warrington North (a) in 1997 and (b) at the last date for which figures are available. [148255]

Mr. Miliband: The full-time equivalent number of teaching assistants 1 in maintained schools is recorded in January of each year on the Annual School Census. In Warrington, North constituency there were 120 teaching assistants in maintained schools in 1997 and 230 in 2003.

Higher Education Funding

Mr. Keith Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what (1) (a) proportion and (b) type of courses in higher education are subject to variable fees; [149432]

Alan Johnson [holding answer 20 January 2004]: Fees for post graduate, part-time and overseas students in higher education are currently unregulated. Such students make up around 50 per cent. of the total. Fees for full-time undergraduates are currently set at a standard rate of £1,125 per year (for 2003–04): the Higher Education Bill contains provisions to allow higher education institutions and further education colleges that provide higher education to vary their fees for these students up to a maximum of £3,000, provided they have an access agreement approved by the Office for Fair Access.

Approximately 80 per cent., of further education provision for adults is subject to variable fees. Public funding through the Learning and Skills Council assumes a learner or employer contribution of 25 per cent. to the basic cost of the course. However, colleges are free to vary the fee charged between 0 per cent. and 75 per cent. of the basic cost. No fees may be charged for the 20 per cent. of provision not subject to variable fees. This comprises provision for adult learners on income based benefits and literacy and numeracy courses.

School Fruit Scheme

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which of the 50 most deprived council wards have schools taking part in the National School Fruit Scheme. [146014]

Miss Melanie Johnson: I have been asked to reply.

All local education authority schools with children aged four to nine years in four of the nine Government Regions had been invited to join the National School Fruit Scheme.

The information requested is shown in the table.

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WardLocal authorityIndex of multiple deprivation scoreRank of index of multiple deprivationTaking part inNSFS/dateexpected to join
ThorntreeMiddlesbrough82.523March 2004
PallisterMiddlesbrough81.765March 2004
St. Hilda'sMiddlesbrough81.287March 2004
GrangetownRedcar and Cleveland80.389March 2004
Portrack and TileryStockton-on-Tees78.4115March 2004
Beswick and ClaytonManchester77.5817Yes
Kirkby CentralKnowsley77.3718Yes
RegentGreat Yarmouth77.3019Autumn 2004
Eden HillEasington76.9921Autumn 2004
WalkerNewcastle upon Tyne 75.5730March 2004
MonkchesterNewcastle upon Tyne 75.3731March 2004
Park EndMiddlesbrough75.3132March 2004
ElswickNewcastle upon Tyne 74.5936March 2004
NelsonGreat Yarmouth74.3337Autumn 2004
Cantril FarmKnowsley74.3338Yes
West CityNewcastle upon Tyne 73.9240March 2004
Little NortonBradford73.4842Yes
Southey GreenSheffield73.3643Autumn 2004
Newton HeathManchester73.1345Yes
SpitalfieldsTower Hamlets73.1146Yes
LansburyTower Hamlets73.0847Yes
WeaversTower Hamlets73.0349Yes
Noddle HillKingston upon Hull, City of 72.9150Autumn 2004

School Meals

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much was spent on school meals per head by each local education authority in the last year for which figures are available. [147247]

Mr. Miliband: My Department does not collect this information from schools or local education authorities.

Higher Education Funding

Mr. Rendel: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on what amount of debt he has based his estimate of the length of time it will take the average graduate to complete graduate repayments after 2010; and what the change would be in this time if the annual income threshold for repayment was raised to (a) £18,000 and (b) £20,000. [147769]

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Alan Johnson [holding answer 19 January 2004]: The estimate of the length of time to repay is the average across all students who take out a loan. This is different from the length of time it will take for some notional average graduate to repay. The estimate is from a model which simulates student loan repayments, based on assumed distributions of: length of time in Higher Education; size of means-tested loan taken out; size of fee loan, net of any fee remission; and borrower lifetime earnings. Some borrowers will repay more quickly than this estimated average and some less so.

As part of a package of reforms announced with the introduction of the Higher Education Bill, any debt outstanding after 25 years would be written-off. The threshold would increase to £15,000 in April 2005 and be increased with inflation from April 2010 onwards. The average time to repay would be around 13 years.

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Under the same approach to uprating the threshold, the average time to repay would be around 15 years with an £18,000 threshold and around 16 years with a £20,000 threshold.

Mr. Rendel: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will estimate the additional cost to the Student Loans Company of administering student loans if top-up fees are introduced; and if he will make a statement. [148265]

Alan Johnson: The introduction of deferred fee loans will have a small effect on the Inland Revenue and the Student Loans Company. Any extra costs will be largely a function of the numbers of graduates repaying loans after 2010. There is also the need to monitor what fees a student is incurring for what courses. There will be one-off development costs to the SLC of introducing the change. DfES would meet the cost. No figures are yet available. Information on the proposals is set out in the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA), copies of which are in the House Libraries.

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