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Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the total travel costs to his Department have been for (a) Ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) officials for each year since 1997. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg [holding answer 9 December 2004]: Since 1999, the Government publishes, on an annual basis, the total costs of all ministerial overseas travel and a list of all visits by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500. Copies of the lists are available in the Library of the House. Details on the cost of Ministers' domestic travel are not held centrally and can only be obtained at disproportionate cost.
|Number of overseas visits||Average cost for special adviser per visit (£)|
Dr. Howells: The Secretary of State wrote to the Higher Education Funding Councils for England (HEFCE) on 1 December seeking their advice on subjects or courses of national strategic, where intervention might be appropriate to strengthen or secure them.
Dr. Howells: Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are autonomous organisations responsible for their own academic direction and strategic use of funds. The Government are nevertheless concerned to ensure that the UK has the right stock and flow of skilled scientists. The Science and Innovation Investment framework 20042014, published in July, set out a range of measures to address this.
More recently, the Secretary of State wrote to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) seeking their advice on subjects or courses of national strategic importance, where intervention might be appropriate to strengthen or secure them.
The information requested is not available. Universities are autonomous institutions, free to make decisions about courses and departments without consulting Government. The Department for Trade and Industry analysis for "The Science and Innovation Investment Framework" estimated that approximately 15 physics and 11 chemistry departments closed in the past 10 years.
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Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he expects to announce the conclusions of his review of benchmarks for university admissions based on (a) state schools and (b) socio-economic status; and when this review commenced. 
Dr. Howells: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 10 November when I said that I will look at the benchmarks to see if there is any way they can be improved or better understood. I have not announced a specific timescale for this work.
Alan Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many full-time higher education students were enrolled at universities and colleges in England in each of the past 10 years. 
|Academic year||Postgraduates||Undergraduates||Total HE|
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many UK citizens of (a) Asian, (b) black, (c) Chinese and (d) white background were admitted to universities in England in 2004. 
Dr. Howells: The latest available information covers applicants accepted through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) to full-time undergraduate courses for entry in 2003. The figures are in the table. Figures for 2004 entry are due for release by UCAS in January.
|Ethnicity||Accepted applicants||Percentage of|
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her latest estimate is of the number of universities expected to charge the maximum £3,000 fee in 2006; and if she will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: The Government does not have a particular expectation of the pattern of fee charging. The level of fees to charge, up to the maximum of £3,000, is for the universities themselves to decide, provided that they can satisfy the Office for Fair Access in respect of their access plans.
Derek Twigg: School head teachers and governing bodies decide whether to install vending machines in schools, and if so, what products should be sold. However, we plan to extend our nutritional standards for school lunches to cover food consumed in schools throughout the day.
Across government we are taking forward a number of initiatives that focus on healthy vending machines in schools. The Department of Health's (DoH) strand of the joint DfES/DoH Food in Schools programme includes a pilot project on healthier vending. Information can be viewed on their website: http://www.dh.gov.uk/PolicyAndGuidance/HealthAndSocialCareTopics/FoodInSchools/fs/en.
The Food Standards Agency recently published a toolkit entitled "Vending Healthy Drinks". The guide provides information on healthy vending machines selling drinks such as milk, pure fruit juice and water. The guide can be viewed on the website: http://www.food.gov.uk/news/pressreleases/2004/oct/vendinghealthy.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the Answer of 9 December 2004, Official Report, column 780W, on Verwood Trinity School, whether her Department accepts liability for the £200,000 debt. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg
[holding answer 20 December]: No. This is a commitment taken on in respect of the school without agreement from the Department that it
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would be funded. However, as indicated in the answer on 9 December, we will review the position on providing grant support towards the costs nearer the end of the financial year.
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