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10 Jan 2006 : Column 508W—continued


Identity Cards

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment the Government have made of whether a new electoral register database (a) will be of assistance in and (b) may be used to assist the introduction of identity cards. [39492]

Ms Harman: The Government are currently consulting on proposals for national access to electoral register information, in particular the development of a consolidated record of all that information in a centrally-held dataset. This consultation paper on the proposed co-ordinated online record of electors (CORE) identifies a number of ways in which such a consolidated record could be of assistance, in particular in respect of decreasing the administrative burden on existing users of electoral register data and strengthening measures to counter any attempted fraud in relation to electoral registration.

The consultation paper also seeks views on longer-term possibilities opened up by establishing a co-ordinated record of electors. Such possibilities include the potential for comparison of electoral register data with that in any identity card register, so that the integrity of the former can benefit from the high levels of verification proposed for ID cards.
10 Jan 2006 : Column 509W

Legal Aid

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much legal aid was given to non-British citizens in each quarter in the last three years. [39465]

Bridget Prentice: The nationality of those seeking legal aid does not form part of the eligibility criteria for receipt of legal aid, and is therefore not recorded by the Legal Services Commission (LSC).

Non-departmental Public Bodies

Mr. Weir: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many staff were employed by non-departmental public bodies and agencies for which she has responsibility in 2004–05 in (a) total and (b) each (i) nation and (ii) region of the UK and (c) London. [35952]

Ms Harman: Total executive NDPB staff numbers by department as at 31 March 2005 are recorded in Table 2 of Public Bodies 2005, a copy of which is in the House Libraries, and which is available online at: future of the civil service/agencies and public bodies/publications/pdf/public-bodies/publicbodies2005.pdf

The number of staff in individual executive agencies as at 1 April 2004, including a regional analysis, is available in civil service statistics 2004 which was published in February 2005, a copy of which is in House Libraries.

It is also available online at: of the civil service/statistics/contents for civil service statistics 2004 report/number of civil servants/ind ex.asp

Regional NDPB breakdowns are not detailed and can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.



Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list ongoing projects in her Department for which consultants have been hired. [39911]

Bill Rammell: The information requested is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) letters from hon. Members, (b) letters from members of the public and (c) Parliamentary Questions from (i) hon. Members and (ii) Lords were dealt with by her Department in each year since 1995; in respect of what percentage her Department took (A) more than one month and (B) more than three months to provide a substantive answer; and if she will make a statement. [37381]

Bill Rammell: We are unable to provide the requested figures without incurring disproportionate cost.
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The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of departments in replying to Members/Peers correspondence. The Report for 2004 was published on 6 April 2005, Official Report, columns 137–40WS. Reports for earlier years are available in the Library of the House.

The Department's target for correspondence from members of the public is to reply to 95 within 15 working days of receipt. Ministers take responses to Parliamentary Questions very seriously, and endeavour to answer within Parliamentary deadlines where possible.

Departmental Expenditure

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the annual expenditure has been on training and development for (a) her Department and (b) each (i) non-departmental public body, (ii) executive agency and (iii) other public body for which she is responsible in (A) Scotland, (B) Wales, (C) each of the English regions and (D) Northern Ireland in each of the last three financial years; and what the planned expenditure is for 2005–06. [39998]

Maria Eagle: Within my Department, the prime responsibility for developing staff lies with line managers who are best placed to assess individual needs. Most learning and development takes place on the job, supplemented by off the job learning as need requires. Records are not held centrally on this.

In addition, staff have access to development provided through the Department's internal learning and development unit.

The annual learning programme budgets for activities provided through the Department's internal learning and development unit since 2002 are as follows:

My Department's expected investment in learning and development for 2005–06 is £4,000,000.

Other activities take place across the Department which incorporate elements of learning and development within them. It is not possible to separate these out or quantify costs.

Records are not held centrally on the annual expenditure on learning and development for non-departmental public bodies, executive agencies, other public bodies in Scotland, Wales, the English regions and Northern Ireland.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to her answer of 29 November 2005, Official Report, column 478W, on Departmental Staff, what remuneration is received by the tutor in basic skills from the Learning and Skills Council. [36024]

10 Jan 2006 : Column 511W

Bill Rammell: The Learning and Skills Council is not responsible for the remuneration of the basic skills tutor. Westminster Adult Education Service is responsible for the remuneration of its staff.

Records are not held centrally on the remuneration arrangements of Westminster Adult Education Service.


Stephen Pound: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to reduce the funding gap between school sixth forms and further education colleges in Ealing. [40702]

Bill Rammell: The Learning and Skills Development Agency's (LSDA) report into the funding gap between schools sixth forms and further education (FE) colleges for like-for-like 16–19 provision was commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) as part of the agenda for change development programme. The report was the first attempt at a comprehensive assessment of all the factors that contribute to the total funding gap and estimated it to be in the region of 13 per cent.

We recognise that closing the funding gap will not be easy but we have taken some important steps towards doing this. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced on 16 November the progress that we have made and our future plans for addressing the gap.

The LSDA report was based on 2003/04 figures and since then we have increased FE funding rates relative to school sixth forms. In both 2004/05 and 2005/06 LSC funding rates for FE were increased by 5 per cent. compared to 4 per cent. for schools sixth forms. We have committed to matching the schools' Minimum Funding Guarantee for 16–19 FE. We are also addressing a number of technical anomalies between the two funding system through removal of the in-year adjustment and by beginning a phased removal of the Real Terms Guarantee for school sixth forms. We estimate that these measures will together reduce the funding gap to 8 per cent. by 2006/07.

We will follow this with further work and our next steps will be to bring greater consistency to the treatment of student retention and achievement between the school and college sectors from 2008. That should narrow the gap by a further 3 per cent.

Beyond that, we will work to establish a common funding approach across the two sectors through the LSC's agenda for change programme.

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