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Student Debt

Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate he has made of the average level of debt with which a student enrolling on a three-year course at a higher education institution in 2006 will graduate. [91328]

Bill Rammell: For those commencing courses after the introduction of variable fees in the 2006-07 academic year we expect average student debt of around £15,000. Debts arising from student loans are very different from those from commercial loan products. Repayments are linked to income and only calculated on earnings over £15,000. This means a borrower earning below this threshold does not have to make repayments. For example, someone earning the average graduate starting salary of £18,000 will repay £5.19 per week regardless of the amount borrowed. The Government subsidises the rate of interest on these loans to ensure that borrowers only repay in real terms what they borrowed, however long it takes them.

Student Loans

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures are in place to identify non-payment of loan repayments due to the Student Loans Company. [92067]

Bill Rammell: There are two types of student loans, the first of which, the mortgage-style loans scheme, ceased for new loans in 1998. A range of measures are in place for accounts that fall into arrears. Attempts are made to contact the borrower by letter and telephone to establish borrowers’ circumstances, assign or re-assign them to the correct status and treatment, and to re-institute repayments where due. If appropriate, SLC will assign tracing and collection agents and, where necessary, take legal action.

Income contingent loans, made since 1998, are collected through the tax system. The SLC works closely with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to identify borrowers to allow employers to make deductions, and HMRC to collect repayments through the self assessment process, when a borrower is earning over £15,000. As part of this, the SLC regularly contacts those borrowers who are not currently repaying to confirm their details and check their employment status.

Third Sector Forum (Young People's Services)

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when the minutes of the Third Sector Forum for Children and Young People's Services on 17 July will be published. [92883]

Mr. Dhanda: The minutes of the Third Sector Forum meeting on 17 July have been produced and circulated to members of the Forum. The minutes are available on request. It is the intention that they will be available on the Department's website. I have arranged for a copy of the minutes to be sent to the hon. Gentleman.

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Unfilled Teaching Posts

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many teaching posts have remained unfilled in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [93178]

Jim Knight: The information is not available in the format requested.

The following table shows the number of full-time vacancies in local authority maintained schools in England in January of each year, and the vacancy rate.

Full-time vacancy rates( 1) in local authority maintained schools in England, January of each year
All vacancies
Number Rate































(1) Advertised vacancies for full-time permanent appointments (or appointments of at least one term’s duration). Includes vacancies being filled on a temporary basis of less than one term. Note: Numbers are rounded to the nearest 10. Source: Survey of teachers in service and teacher vacancies, (618g).

Universities (Greater London)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many students were enrolled on degree courses at universities in Greater London in each of the last five years. [93031]

Bill Rammell: The latest available information is given in the table. Figures for 2005-06 will be available in January 2007.

First degree enrolments at London HE institutions, 2000/01 to 2004/05
Academic year Enrolments











Note: Figures are on a HESA standard registration population basis and are rounded to the nearest 5. Source: Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

Young Asylum Seekers

Mr. Vaizey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate he has made of the cost to local authorities of caring for unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people in each of the last three years. [92713]

Jim Knight: The Department does not collect this information centrally.

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The DfES provides funding towards meeting the costs of supporting unaccompanied asylum seeker care leavers, aged 18 and over. A total of £9 million was paid out in respect of the 2004-05 grant year, the first year of the grant. Claims for the 2005-06 grant year are still being submitted.

The Home Office provides additional funding to local authorities over and above mainstream funding to support unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC), aged under 18. The claims submitted from local authorities to the Home Office for previous years have been:

£ million









(1 )Claims are still being submitted for this year.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Hazardous Waste

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which copper and zinc compounds defined as hazardous in version 8 of the Health and Safety Executive’s Approved Supply List are not currently defined as hazardous by the Environment Agency in its technical guidance WM2. [89878]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Health and Safety Executive’s Approved Supply List (ASL) does not define hazardous substances, but is a guide to the classification of hazardous substances.

The Environment Agency’s technical guidance, WM2, currently refers to ASL version 7, which was in force at the time of its publication. The Environment Agency intends to release a revised version of WM2 by 1 November this year.

The following zinc and copper compounds are new entries in ASL version 8: that is, they were not included in previous versions of the ASL.

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Recycling (Peterborough)

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects a public inquiry to take place in respect of Peterborough Renewable Energy Ltd's plans for a sustainable resource and recycling facility off Storeys Bar Road in Peterborough; and if he will make a statement. [93161]

Malcolm Wicks: Arrangements for the public inquiry are in hand and the details will be announced as soon as they are finalised.

Solar Panels

Mr. Slaughter: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans the Government have to put solar panels on Government property. [91321]

Ian Pearson: On 12 June the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced new sustainable operations targets for the Government Estate. Government Departments are mandated within the new targets to source at least 10 per cent. of electricity from renewables such as wind, wave, tidal, solar thermal and photovoltaics by March 2008.

The majority of Departments have already exceeded the renewable target for 2008. Departmental performance against renewable targets has been published in annual Sustainable Development in Government Reports. The last Report published by the Sustainable Development Commission, the independent watchdog, was in December 2005 and is available at:

In addition, the Secretary of State recently announced an innovative scheme to boost the use of renewable energy which will receive a £10 million investment from the Government. The new venture, Partnership for Renewables, will partner local authorities, hospitals and other public sector bodies with private sector organisations to develop onsite renewable energy projects. The Government support will pave the way for PfR to catalyse the expansion of the public sector renewables market.


Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department has spent on (a) food security measures and (b) research on priority threat agents against terrorist action in each year since 2000. [91470]

Barry Gardiner: It is not possible to disaggregate the Department’s spend in this area from other ‘business as usual’ activities. In the past year, DEFRA has commissioned a report from Cranfield university about the resilience of the food chain, but the costs involved are commercially sensitive. It is not Government policy to publicise the detail of precautions against terrorism, but I can confirm that such work is being done.

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Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Amir al-Saadi

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contact the UK Government has had with Dr Amir al-Saadi following his release by the US authorities on 18 January 2005. [93238]

Dr. Howells: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not had contact with Dr Amir al-Saadi following his release.


Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made since July 2006 to the government of China regarding alleged abuse of those who protest against the one child policy in China; what response she received; and if she will make a statement. [93230]

Mr. McCartney: I have been asked to reply.

While the UK has never questioned China's right or need to implement family planning policies, we remain concerned by reports of forced abortions and sterilisations and the treatment of those who have publicly highlighted these issues. We believe that China's family planning policies should be based on the principle of consent, and not coercion, as espoused by the International Conference on Population and Development. At the last round of the UK-China human rights dialogue in July, we raised the case of Chen Guangcheng, a lawyer who highlighted reports of enforced sterilisation and abortion in Linyi City, Shandong province. We also included Chen Guangcheng on a list of cases passed to the Chinese authorities during the visit of Chinese Premier Wen in September. We have not received an official response from the Chinese government. We will continue to raise relevant cases and our concerns about reports of enforced sterilisation and abortion both in our bilateral contacts and with EU partners.


Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the Government's support for the accession of Croatia to the European Union. [93233]

Mr. Hoon: The Government wholeheartedly support Croatia's accession to the European Union, once it has met the relevant standards. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister reiterated this support during his meeting with the Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader on 18 July.

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