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15 Jun 2006 : Column 1404Wcontinued
Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he is taking to increase the number of nuclear scientists and engineers. 
Bill Rammell: The Government are committed to increasing the number of students taking up higher education courses in mathematics, scientific and engineering disciplines. The 10 year science and innovation investment framework, published two years ago jointly by Treasury, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department for Education and Skills, sets out a range of measures to develop a strong supply of scientists, engineers and technologists. It is a matter for each individual higher education institution to decide which courses to offer, including whether to offer courses related to nuclear science.
Sir John Stanley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether it is his policy that primary schools in England with fewer than 100 pupils should be closed. 
Jim Knight: It is not the Departments policy that primary schools in England with fewer than 100 pupils should be closed. Local authorities are responsible for balancing the supply and demand of places in their areas to ensure schools serve the needs of their local communities and provide good quality education in the most cost effective way. As part of this, they need to determine the numbers and sizes of schools they need, taking into account the views and aspirations of parents and other stakeholders.
Many small schools are also rural schools and there is a presumption against the closure of these schools. Although this does not mean that no rural school will ever close, the case for closure needs to be strong and clearly in the best interests of education provision in the area. Since the presumption was introduced in February 1998 the number of rural schools approved for closure has fallen from an average of 30 a year to six a year. Statutory guidance to school organisation committees and the schools adjudicator also makes clear that they must not assume a school must be of a certain size to be a good school.
Mr. Walter: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many university students he estimates will be unable to graduate (a) at all and (b) without a full record of performance of marks as a result of the recent industrial action. 
Bill Rammell: Although this dispute was between universities and trade unions, I have kept closely in touch with both sides throughout its progress and consistently urged that the dispute be urgently resolved and the impact on students lifted.
I welcome the agreement reached between the HE employers and unions on pay and the immediate suspension of the university and college unions industrial action. This is good news for staff and students alike. I expect that institutions and staff will work hard to ensure that every student gets their marks and the opportunity to graduate in good time. The employers and UCU have agreed to work together to
ensure a quick return to normal business. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we will continue to monitor closely the situation with regard to any residual effects of the dispute.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the (a) name, (b) professional and academic qualifications and (c) relevant experience are of the chief accounting officer of his Department. 
Mr. Thomas: Suma Chakrabarti is the Permanent Secretary of the Department of International Development. His qualifications are as follows: New College, Oxford (BA PPE); and Sussex University (MA Econ).
His relevant experience to the work of the Department is as follows:
ODI fellow and economist, Government of Botswana, 1981-84;
Senior economic assistant and economic adviser, overseas development administration (ODA), 1984-88;
Assistant to UK executive director, IMF and World Bank, Washington 1988-1990;
Private Secretary to right hon. Lynda Chalker, ODA, 1990-92;
Assistant secretary, Aid Policy and Resources Department, ODA, 1992-96;
Environment, Transport and Regions Team, Spending Directorate, HM Treasury, 1996-98;
Director, Budget and Public Finances, HM Treasury, 1998;
Director of Performance and Innovation Unit, Cabinet Office, 1998-2000;
Head of Economic and Domestic Affairs Secretariat, Cabinet Office, 2000-01; and
Director General for Regional Programmes, DFID, 2001-02.
The accounting officer is a role that the Permanent Secretary combines with his personal responsibility for the overall organisation, management and staffing of the department and for department-wide procedures in financial and other matters. The accounting officer is assisted in the discharge of these duties by suitably qualified and experienced senior managers such as the finance director.
Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will estimate the pension liability of his Department over the next 30 years. 
HM Treasury made a full statement about the total liability of unfunded public service
pension schemes as at 31 March 2005. A technical note was placed in the Library on 2 March 2006, Official Report, columns 388-390, following an oral Statement in Parliament by the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury. The note provides detailed information about the size and nature of the liabilities and how they are calculated.
The principal civil service pension scheme is an unfunded multi-employer defined benefit scheme. Pension liabilities are not estimated for individual departments, they are estimated for individual pension schemes, as shown in the breakdown of liabilities per pension scheme given in Table 1 of the technical note.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many of his staff are (a) under and (b) over 55 years of age. 
Mr. Thomas: As at 31 December 2005, there were 1,659 staff under 55 years of age and 213 staff over 55 years of age employed by the Department for International Development.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many people over the age of 55 years were recruited into his Department in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Thomas: Numbers of DFID staff over the age of 55, recruited into the Department in each of the last three financial years, are in the following table.
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with retailers on promoting fair-trade products. 
Mr. Thomas: The UK Government are a strong supporter of fair-trade products. They help farmers and other producers earn a decent living and get more of the final value of the product. DFID supports a number of initiatives to help more producers benefit from fair-trade certification. DFID has given over £1 million to the Fairtrade Foundation, including support for new product development and encouraging engagement with UK retailers.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development and I have recently been in written communication with some of the large UK retailers, including Marks and Spencer and Sainsburys on their fair-trade product development and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development is in contact with them on the related issue of standards and sourcing products in developing countries.
Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress was made at the most recent UN General Assembly meeting in relation to increased provision of treatment for HIV/AIDS. 
Mr. Thomas: On June 2, the United Nations General Assembly agreed a Political Declaration which provides a political blueprint for achieving Universal Access. It sets out commitments for countries to develop, by the end of 2006, ambitious national plans to scale up towards universal access by 2010. The commitments include:
working towards comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, with interim targets for 2008;
providing $20 to 23 billion annually by 2010 for AIDS responses;
promoting the rights and reducing the vulnerability of sex workers, men who have sex with men, children, women, adolescent girls and drug users;
intensifying efforts to develop new technology especially microbicides and vaccines; ensuring that no credible, sustainable national plan should go unfunded; and
strengthening countries capacity to use the flexibilities within TRIPS because of their importance in protecting public health.
The UK delegationled by my right. hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development and by the Minister of State for Public Health, including four representatives from civil society, two parliamentarians and one representative from the Overseas Territoriesplayed an active role in the difficult negotiations which led to the agreement of this Declaration. The document broadly reflects the core issues that the UK wanted to see included. We would have preferred to see explicit reference to vulnerable groupssex workers, men who have sex with men, drug users, prisoners and migrants. But the Declaration does commit to promote the rights of these groups. As such, it presents progresssomething which will promote future action towards universal access, and that can be used as the basis for future discussions.
Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans her Department has to commemorate the 300(th) anniversary of the Act of Union with Scotland in 2007. 
Mr. Lammy: The Secretary of State has no plans at present to commemorate the 300(th) anniversary of the Act of Union with Scotland in 2007.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many of her staff are (a) under and (b) over 55 years of age. 
Mr. Lammy: In the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, there are 11 staff over the age of 55 years and 506 staff under the age of 55 years.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many people over the age of 55 years have been recruited into her Department in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Lammy: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is a relatively small department with little external recruitment during the last three years. As the numbers are so small we are unable to reveal the figures on the grounds of confidentiality.
Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on how many days since May 1997 the St. Georges flag has been flown from her Departments buildings. 
Mr. Lammy: The St. Georges flag is flown on Government buildings with two or more flag poles on St. Georges Day, 23 April.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has not flown the St. Georges Flag from its building. However, we plan to fly the flag on 23 April 2007.
Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her Departments policy is on flying the (a) St. Georges flag and (b) EU flag from departmental buildings. 
Mr. Lammy: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport issues guidance to Government Departments for flying flags on buildings. This instructs all Government Departments in England that have more than one flag pole to fly the flag of St. George on St. Georges Day 23 April and the European Flag on Europe Day 9 May, alongside the Union Flag provided the Union Flag is flown in a superior position.
Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will ensure the Union Flag is flown from her Departments buildings on every day the offices are open. 
Mr. Lammy: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is responsible for issuing rules for hoisting the Union flag on Government Buildings. The rules are approved by the Queen on advice from the Department.
The Union Flag is flown on Government buildings to mark the birthdays of members of the Royal Family undertaking official duties and specific national events including Remembrance Sunday, Europe Day, St. Georges Day, Her Majestys
Accession and Wedding Day. The Union Flag is also flown on other occasionsfor example, for state visits.
There are no plans at present to change this arrangement. However individuals, local authorities and other organisations can fly the Union Flag whenever they wish, subject to compliance with local planning requirements.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the effect of spending on aerospace on the economy. 
Margaret Hodge: The Department submitted evidence to the Trade and Industry Committee inquiry into the competitiveness of the UK aerospace industry in 2005. The Departments evidence addresses the contribution of UK aerospace to the economy and Government support for the aerospace industry. The DTIs memorandum is available on the Trade and Industry Committee website at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmerduid.htm
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with BAE Systems on securing ongoing export contracts for the Brough site; and if he will make a statement. 
Margaret Hodge: None. Primary responsibility for the promotion of export sales of the Hawk military fast jet training aircraft produced by BAE Systems at Brough rests with the Ministry of Defences Defence Export Services Organisation.
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