Previous Section Index Home Page


Dental Training

The Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning (Bill Rammell): In July 2004 we announced that we were to fund an additional 170 training places for dentists. A Joint Implementation Group (JIG) comprising representatives of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Department of Health and the National Health Service was established to manage the expansion programme. Of the 170 places, the JIG allocated 89 on a permanent basis to the nine universities with existing undergraduate dental schools enabling each of them to increase their annual intake to 75 new students. There are currently two dental schools in London, with the remaining schools located in Bristol, Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle upon Tyne.

The JIG then allocated the remaining 91 places to the existing schools on a temporary basis in order to hold a competition for the permanent allocation of these places. In response to an invitation to all higher education institutions the JIG received bids from eight of the nine universities with existing dental schools for further expansion and seven bids (subsequently short-listed to six) from universities wishing to establish new dental schools. After short-listing, there were bids for 578 places under consideration. In acknowledgment of the quality of these bids and the importance of the needs they addressed, additional funding was found to increase the number of places on offer to 100.

The JIG applied the following criteria to the assessment of these bids: geography, innovation, quality, potential to widen participation in higher education, value for money and the viability of the proposals for recruiting academic staff. The majority of the bids were of very high quality offering a wide range of innovations in recruiting students and staff and teaching methods. Strategic/geographical considerations were therefore of particular significance.

For example, the JIG noted that there are five dental schools/dental teaching hospitals in the North, but none south of a line from Bristol to London. On the other hand, levels of dental disease are generally higher in the North, except in areas where drinking water is fluoridated. Areas distant from the main conurbations (and therefore from the existing dental schools) often have fewer dentists in relation to population than other areas.

The JIG submitted its recommendations to the HEFCE Board in December 2005 and, at its meeting on 26 January 2006, the Board decided to approve:

26 Jan 2006 : Column 65WS


Police Grant Report (England and Wales) and Amending Reports

The Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety (Hazel Blears): On 5 December 2005, I informed the House that I had issued for consultation a provisional police finance settlement for 2006–07 giving indicative grant increases for that year and for 2007–08. The consultation period closed on 11 January. I intend to lay before the House shortly the Police Grant Report (England and Wales) 2006–07 which will establish the amounts of Police Grant to be paid to police authorities in 2006–07 and the basis of their distribution.


Electoral Reform

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. David Hanson): I have published the Government's response to the public consultations carried out on its proposals for the future of electoral registration and the regulation of political donations in Northern Ireland.

The consultation response outlines how the Government intend to move forward with regard to reforming the arrangements for electoral registration and political donations in Northern Ireland.

Copies of the response have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.


Intelligence and Security Committee

The Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair): Following appropriate consultation and in accordance with Section 10 of the Intelligence and Security Act 1994, I have appointed the right hon. Michael Ancram QC DL MP as a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee in place of the right hon. James Arbuthnot MP.


Common Commencement Dates

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Barry Gardiner): The DTI has today published its Annual Statement of Common Commencement Dates (CCDs) and other forthcoming proposals. This shows the extension of CCDs to all domestic regulatory areas of DTI. The Statement lists those regulations that will come into force on 6 April and 1 October 2006. Other sections of the report show the in-force date of European and other domestic legislation, which are not aligned with CCDs.
26 Jan 2006 : Column 66WS

The document has today been placed in the Libraries of the House and on the DTI and Small Business Service websites at:—comence5.htm/. detail?r.s=sl&type=ONEOFFPAGE&itemId= 1075320304.


Dartford—Thurrock Crossing Road User Charging Scheme: Accounts for 2004–05

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Dr. Stephen Ladyman): The Dartford—Thurrock Crossing Road User Charging Scheme accounts for 2004–05 are published today under section 3(1)(b) of the Trunk Road Charging Schemes (Bridges and Tunnels) (Keeping of Accounts) (England) Regulations 2003. A copy of the accounts will be placed in the House Library. Copies are available from the Vote Office.

Transport Innovation Fund

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Alistair Darling): Further to my statement to the House on 5 July 2005, I am today publishing guidance on the operation of the Transport Innovation Fund (TIF). Copies are today being placed in the Library of the House, published on the Department for Transport website and sent to all local highway authorities and Regional Development Agencies in England.

Through the fund we will be able to direct resources towards the achievement of two key objectives—tackling congestion and improving national productivity. The guidance I am publishing today explains how we will (a) support schemes aimed at tackling local congestion through demand management and better public transport, and (b) support schemes which meet national productivity objectives.

Schemes to tackle congestion

The guidance explains how local authorities can apply for funding from TIF to support the costs of smarter, innovative local packages which couple demand management, including road pricing, with improved public transport. It follows the award, on 28 November 2005, Official Report, column 3WS, of £7 million of pump-priming funding for seven areas in England to assess the feasibility of such schemes. The new guidance explains the process for bidding for TIF funds for such schemes and offers local authorities the opportunity to enter into a partnership with the Department to develop their proposals.

There will be a second opportunity to bid for TIF pump-priming funds in July this year. TIF funding is open to bidding by all authorities in England, regardless of whether they are awarded pump-priming funds or TIF partnership.

For schemes to tackle local congestion, some local authorities may wish to bid for TIF funding to, amongst other things, support bus schemes. Such authorities will want to be reassured that there are suitable mechanisms for involving private operators. The Transport Act 2000 provided two mechanisms for this—Quality Contracts (about which guidance was published in February 2005)
26 Jan 2006 : Column 67WS
and Statutory Quality Partnerships. Guidance on SQPs, including how they relate to TIF supported schemes, will be issued shortly. In this context my Department is considering ways in which SQPs, and existing or future partnership arrangements, could deliver major improvements in bus services as part of a package to improve traffic flows in cities outside London. My officials are discussing with the Office of Fair Trading how to ensure that these partnerships are consistent with competition law.

Schemes with benefits for national productivity

The Transport Innovation Fund will also be available for packages and schemes which are expected to make a major contribution to national productivity, but for which existing sources of funding are insufficient. The Department will suggest, for further evaluation, schemes which have been identified earlier, and which appear likely to meet the criteria set out in the guidance, and to assist in this process it will be seeking the views of the Regional Development Agencies on potential candidates and priorities. Accordingly, there will not be any form of bidding process for productivity schemes.

Decisions on the final allocation of TIF funds between these schemes will be taken following appraisal of their business cases against the criteria set out in the guidance document, alongside the bids for congestion schemes.

Next Section Index Home Page