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30 Jan 2006 : Column 101W—continued

Truancy

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether her proposed fines for parents of unsupervised children during school hours will apply to parents in receipt of income support and jobseeker's allowance. [46442]

Jacqui Smith: Yes. The proposed offence will require the parents of pupils who have been excluded from school to ensure that their child is not in a public place during normal school hours without reasonable justification during the first five days of exclusion.

Failure to do so could result in a penalty notice. Failure to pay the penalty will result in prosecution which could lead to a fine of up to £1,000. Courts must take ability to pay into account in setting the level of any fine.

University Places

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the likely effects of the introduction of top-up fees on the level of applications for university admissions in (a) 2005–06 and (b) 2006–07; and if she will make a statement. [41450]

Bill Rammell: Latest figures published by Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) show that accepted applicants from England to full-time undergraduate courses rose by 9 per cent. in 2005/06. This was a larger than usual increase. We might therefore expect a slight fall in application numbers for the 2006 entry and then a return to a long-term upward trend, as experienced in 1997 and 1998 when the last major change to student support arrangements was introduced.

Latest figures for 2006/07, covering students who applied by mid-October to Oxbridge or to medical and dentistry courses, show that applicants from the UK were down by 2 per cent. However, these are early figures and only give a partial picture. The first major milestone in the application cycle is mid-January, which is the advisory closing date for applications from UK domiciled students. Figures for the number of students who had applied by this point will be published by UCAS in mid-February, and these will give a more reliable indication of trends.

Year 12 Pupils

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of year 12 pupils left school before the end of the academic year in the latest year for which figures are available. [46498]

Jacqui Smith: The requested information is not collected centrally.

Young Parents (Education)

Mr. Wills: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what national target she has set for increasing the number of (a) pregnant teenagers and (b) parents aged 16-to-18 years in learning. [45524]


 
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Phil Hope: The teenage pregnancy strategy includes a target—shared with the Connexions service—to increase the proportion of teenage mothers aged 16-to-19 in education, employment or training (EET) to 60 per cent. by 2010.

Youth Clubs

Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will estimate how many youth clubs were available for young people in (a) the constituency of Ruislip-Northwood, (b) the London borough of Hillingdon, (c) Greater London and (d) England in each of the last 10 years. [46356]

Maria Eagle: Youth clubs are delivered locally by local authority youth services and national and local voluntary youth organisations. Information is not held centrally on the number of youth clubs run by each individual local authority.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Artists Resale Levy

Ms Gisela Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 23 January 2006, Official Report, column 1760W, on the artists' resale levy, what independent economic research is referred to; and what aspects of this research differ from previous research on this subject. [46123]

Barry Gardiner: The economic research referred to is the 'Scoping Study: Artist's Resale Right' published on the Patent Office website. This was an independent study commissioned to consider the impact of resale right on a range of parties. It considered the number of sales affected, the number of UK artists likely to benefit from resale right and the costs of administering the right. This study was based on the most recent figures available and was able to take in a wider range of data than had previously been possible. The authors of this study spoke to representatives of both the art market and the artists.

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) staff and (b) students were employed at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology stations in each year since 1996; and if he will make a statement. [43894]

Barry Gardiner: The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) is wholly owned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). NERC science budget allocation has doubled since 1997 to £334 million for this year, demonstrating our commitment to maintaining the quality of environmental research in the UK. NERC is currently consulting widely with stakeholders on proposals on how best CEH can contribute on a sustainable basis to this. I have asked the Chief Executive of NERC to write to my hon. Friend with details of staff and student numbers at CEH.
 
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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what areas of scientific research will be (a) reduced and (b) discontinued following the proposed Centre for Ecology and Hydrology closures. [44852]

Barry Gardiner: The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) science budget allocation has doubled since 1997 to £334 million for this year, demonstrating our commitment to maintaining the quality of environmental research in the UK. NERC has published a business plan for the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) for consultation. This is available at http://www.nerc.ac.uk/consult/ceh/ceh-businessplan.pdf It contains details of the proposals for the future of CEH, which reflect NERC's consideration of its scientific priorities, and how best CEH can contribute to these on a sustainable basis.

Under the proposed new structure, CEH would continue to deliver its current six science programmes. Final decisions on specific areas of research that would be reduced or discontinued await the outcome of the public and staff consultation processes and subsequent decision by NERC Council.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) domestic awards have been won, (b) international science awards have been won and (c) papers have been published in Nature by scientists working at the laboratories which will be closed under the proposed restructuring of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. [42555]

Alan Johnson: It will take some time for the Natural Environmental Research Council to collate this data, and I have asked the chief executive of NERC to write to the hon. Member as soon as possible.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many endangered species in the UK the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has been credited with saving from extinction. [44853]

Barry Gardiner: The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) carries out research on, and monitoring of, various aspects of the natural environment, including endangered species. The research findings are used by Government Departments and others in forming policy and taking action, including on endangered species.

Research by CEH or its precursor organisations has contributed to the development of species action plans (SAPs) for at least six plant species, and improved understanding of the lifecycle requirements of, or the impact of human activities on, several vulnerable or threatened animal species including 15 butterfly species, two fish species, the otter, smooth snake, peregrine, sparrowhawk, golden-eagle, capercaillie, black grouse, Scottish crossbill and bullfinch.

The CEH business plan (www.nerc.ac.uk/consult/ceh/businessplan.asp) indicates that research in biodiversity (which includes these areas of research) would be expected to continue following the proposed restructuring.
 
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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how many environmental research projects Government Departments and agencies have commissioned the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology to undertake in each year since 1997; [44862]

(2) how much funding the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology received in each year since 1997; and what the proposed funding totals are for the next five years. [44863]

Barry Gardiner: The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) is wholly owned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The science budget allocation to NERC has doubled since 1997, demonstrating our commitment to maintaining the quality of environmental research in the UK. NERC is currently consulting widely with stakeholders on proposals on how best CEH can contribute on a sustainable basis to this.

NERC has been asked to collate data on projects commissioned at CEH from Government Departments and agencies, and on funding of CEH. I shall ask the chief executive of NERC to write to the hon. Member on these points.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the impact which the proposed Centre for Ecology and Hydrology closures will have on schools, colleges and universities with which it has educational and training links. [44864]

Barry Gardiner: The Government provide funding to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to support research and related postgraduate training in environmental sciences in the UK. NERC has published a business plan for the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) for consultation. This proposed plan used the output from a strategic review which included information concerning links with schools, colleges and universities. In particular, collaborative research links with universities were one of many factors analysed to inform the proposed retained-site locations.

Although the proposed closure of sites would inevitably affect some local links, particularly with schools, CEH and NERC would continue to support educational outreach activities and interaction with academic and other partners.


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