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Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many people are employed by the Office for Fair Access; what the running cost of the Office was in the last year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement on its future. 
Dr. Howells: In addition to the Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, who was appointed by the Secretary of State in October this year, the number of staff employed at the Office for Fair Access is five, of which two are part-time. The cost of the Office will average £500,000 a year. The role of the Office for Fair Access in approving and monitoring access agreements is critical to ensuring that access is widened not narrowed when higher variable fees are introduced from 2006.
Jeff Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what action he is taking to close the funding gap between schools and colleges for the provision of sixth-form education. 
Dr. Howells: The Government have already taken action to narrow the funding gap between school sixth forms and further education colleges. For the academic year 200304, base funding rates per qualification increased by 3 per cent. for school sixth forms and by 4.5 per cent. for further education colleges on a broadly comparable basis. In 200405, funding rates for colleges meeting their targets increased by 5 per cent., while those for school sixth forms rose by 4 per cent. We expect to see this trend continue in the 200506 academic year.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the (a) cost to the
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Department, (b) title and (c) location was of each training course organised by his Department for its staff in each financial year since 199798. 
Mr. Charles Clarke: My Department is responsible for encouraging and supporting learning and development throughout England. It has set itself the objective of becoming an exemplar learning organisation and is committed to providing access to training for its staff and to developing them to their full potential. To this end it has established leading edge e-learning facilities and continues to develop this and other learning solutions for its staff.
Most provision is now delivered by external Strategic Partners. Learning events are available on all four sites in Sheffield, London, Darlington and Runcorn. They include the following programmes:
We are unable to provide all of the information requested as retained records go back only to 2002. Details after this period are provided as follows:
These figures cover most of the formal aspects of learning and development funded by the Department from centrally-held budgets. They do not include, for example, such areas as coaching by line managers, interchange or secondment. Nor do they include training identified and paid for from other devolved budgets, for example towards degree courses.
Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what financial penalties were paid in each financial year since 199798 to training providers by the Department for training courses prepared for its staff which were subsequently cancelled at the Department's request. 
Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 29 November 2004]: We do not collate centrally the total cost of financial penalties incurred as a result of course or event cancellation.
We do however keep cancellations of centrally-run events to a minimum by:
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many undergraduate places were (a) available for and (b) filled by students wishing to study veterinary medicine in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. 
Dr. Howells [holding answer 30 November 2004]: For English HEIs veterinary science numbers are not subject to any quota. The number of places available is determined independently by each institution from within their block grant.
The available information on numbers of students studying veterinary science has been taken from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) Student Record and is follows:
|Academic year||Total undergraduates|
John Mann: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will assess the cost to public funds of a 24-year-old man (a) drawing invalidity benefit and disability living allowance but not entering employment for 40 years, assuming 2004 prices and current benefit rates and (b) the contribution to public funds of a 24-year-old man working for 40 years, assuming average earnings and current tax rates. 
The details of any calculation depend on assumptions about individual circumstances. Comparing a single childless person receiving long-term incapacity benefit of £74.15 a week and a lower rate disability living allowance of £15.55, with a similar person with median full-time earnings of £422.10 a week paying £68.12 income tax and £36.42 employee national insurance contributions with associated employer national insurance contributions of £42.38, could give a differential impact on public funds of £236.62 a week. Multiplying this by 52 weeks and 40 years would give a figure of around £492,000.
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Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the number of Civil Service jobs which will be dispersed to Liverpool; what the nature of the jobs will be; and what the timescale is. 
John Healey: As announced in Spending Review 2004, the Government are committed to relocating over 20,000 public sector posts out of London and the South East by 2010. It is not possible to say at this stage how many Civil Service jobs will be relocated to Liverpool. Departments are currently working through detailed implementation planning in consultation with stakeholders including unions, staff and local stakeholders. Only a small proportion of location choices have so far been determined. Where location choices have been decided, the numbers of new posts being created in the area have not been finalised.
We are monitoring the progress of the relocation programme closely.
As the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his PBR speech, the Department of Work and Pensions and Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise have reported that some posts have been relocated to Liverpool.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his target time is in 200405 (a) to reply to letters from hon. Members and (b) for the officials in his office to reply to letters received directly from members of the public. 
John Healey: The Treasury's target for replying to all correspondence is 15 working days from receipt.
Information on the departmental handling of correspondence from Members of Parliament/Peers is published annually by the Cabinet Office. The 2003 annual report is available in the Library of the House.
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