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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what factors she took into account in deciding to bring forward proposals to hold back a proportion of university places for offers based on actual rather than predicted A-level grades; 
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Bill Rammell: Over the years, there have been consistent calls for the introduction of a system of applications to higher education based on students' actual achievements rather than predicted grades. These include, in 1997 Sir Ron (now Lord) Dearing's National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education, and Sir Mike Tomlinson in his Inquiry into A Level Standards in 2002. Most recently, in his report on Fair Admissions to Higher Education, Professor Steven Schwartz concluded that the current system, relying on predicted grades, more than half of which are inaccurate, cannot be fair. That is why, in September 2004, the then Secretary of State for Education and Skills asked for work to be carried out to identify ways to resolve the practical issues associated with implementing a new system based on known examination results.
On 9 September 2005, after detailed work with key stakeholders, the Department launched a public consultation making a number of proposals for changes to the higher education applications system including a proposition that predicted exam results should play no part in applications and admissions decisions. Analysis confirming the extent to which predicted grades are inaccurate was provided in a report prepared for the University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) ("Estimating the Reliability of Predicted Grades"). This analysis confirmed that only 45 per cent. of predicted grades are accurate and that they are most inaccurate for students from lower socio-economic groups.
The consultation document proposes a number of changes to the existing higher education applications process that could be made by the academic year 2008/09. In the longer term, it also acknowledges that there can be more than one way of achieving the objectives of a post-qualification applications system and sets out two possible approaches on which it is seeking views. One would involve institutions making no formal offers of places until after exam results; the other would see some places offered before results and a proportion of places reserved until afterwards. The consultation also welcomes the idea that new approaches may appear as a result of the discussion it will stimulate. The consultation runs until 5 December, after which there will be a period to analyse the responses and post a summary on the consultation website.
Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether the Permanent Secretary approved her Department's presentation of and press release on Dr. Hayward's report on the University and College Admissions Service. 
[holding answer 13 October 2005]: The Permanent Secretary was not personally involved in clearing the press release, nor in the arrangements for announcing the consultation on Improving the Higher Education Applications Process which drew on Dr. Hayward's report to UCAS on the reliability of predicted examination grades. These functions were carried out by departmental officials. In so doing, there was a genuine and regrettable mistake in the press
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release that referred to a finding that was not supported by the UCAS report. I have apologised for this publicly. This inaccuracy however should not be allowed to obscure the important fact that the majority of predicted results are inaccurate and that they are most inaccurate for students from lower socio-economic groups. The intention is to develop a fair system for all students. Different groups over time have argued that predicted results should play less of a role in higher education applications and admissions decisions.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Prime Minister what restrictions exist on former Ministry of Defence Ministers taking up employment with companies which they may have dealt with during their periods in office; and if he will make a statement. 
John Reid: [holding answer 13 October 2005]: As my predecessor made clear previously on 30 June 2004, Official Report, column 318W, work has been undertaken to keep options open in considering platforms to carry the Trident D5 missile in the longer term pending future decisions on any replacement for Trident. However, while decisions on any replacement for the Trident system are likely to be required in the current Parliament, they are still some way off and Ministers have not yet begun to consider the position on this issue in any detail. It is therefore too early to speculate on the merits of any particular option.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what steps he will take to ensure a full debate on the future of the UK's nuclear deterrent; and whether these will include the publication of a White Paper; 
John Reid [holding answer 13 October 2005]: While decisions on the long term future of the UK nuclear deterrent are likely to be necessary in the current Parliament, they are still some way off. It is therefore too early to say what formal or informal procedures might be used to underpin future decision-making by the Government in this area.
John Reid [holding answer 13 October 2005]: Decisions on any replacement for Trident have not yet been taken. While decisions are likely to be required in the current Parliament, they are still some way off and Ministers have not yet begun to consider the position on this issue in any detail. It is therefore too early to speculate on the merits of any particular option.
John Reid [holding answer 13 October 2005]: Work by officials is ongoing within the Ministry of Defence preparatory to consideration by Ministers of options for the future of the UK's independent nuclear deterrent. Alongside other options, these studies have looked at the possibility of extending the service of Trident D5 missiles in the UK.
Mr. Thomas: DFID's AIDS expenditure data is not collected according to whether spending is on prevention or treatment activities. DFID's system for assessing the policy focus of all bilateral expenditurethe "Policy Information Marker System" (PIMS)measures the extent to which projects are targeted to achieve the millennium development goals.
Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the average number of people in developing countries born with AIDS or HIV each day in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Thomas: The UK relies on the Joint United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to provide AIDS statistics. There are currently no estimates of the numbers of people born with HIV each day in the past 12 months. According to the UNAIDS 2004 AIDS Epidemic update, it is estimated globally that 2.2 million children under 15-years were living with HIV in 2004. The estimated number of new infections globally amongst children aged under 15, in 2004 was 640 000.
Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the average number of children in developing countries orphaned by AIDS or HIV each day in the last 12 months. 
The UK relies on the Joint United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to provide AIDS statistics. There are currently no estimates of the number of children being orphaned by AIDS each day. According to the UNAIDS 2004 Report on the global AIDS epidemic, it is estimated
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globally that there were 15 million orphans due to AIDS living in 2003. Of this number, it is estimated that 12.1 million orphans due to AIDS were living in sub-Saharan Africa in 2003.
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