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15 Jan 2007 : Column 801W—continued

Inner-London Supplements

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will review the process whereby outer London boroughs have to pay inner London supplements to their teaching employees without compensation from central Government as received by inner London boroughs. [114949]

Jim Knight: The London pay areas are long established and there are no current plans to examine the case for changing them. Because Dedicated Schools Grant distributions are based on spend in the 2005/06, variations in expenditure between each local authority will be taken into account in the levels of funding they receive.

Nuclear Skills Academy

Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what progress has been made on the establishment of the Nuclear Skills Academy. [114651]

Phil Hope: A proposal for a national skills academy covering the nuclear industry was among four proposals chosen by the employer-led selection panel from the second round of bids received in the summer of last year. The four successful bidders were announced on 31 October and invited to produce detailed business plans with the support of the Learning and Skills Council. Business planning commenced in November 2006 and it is hoped will be completed by May 2007. Only when a business plan is judged to meet the rigorous criteria set for national skills academies, including being able to demonstrate sponsorship from employers and good prospects for sustainability, is an academy recommended for approval by Ministers.

PE and School Sports

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what progress has been made with the PE and Schools Sports consultation; and if he will make a statement. [114785]

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Jim Knight: There has been no formal consultation on the PE, School Sport and Club Links strategy. However, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority will be consulting formally on the revised secondary national curriculum in February. This will include the revised programmes of study for physical education.

Religious and Islamic Studies (Funding)

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research he has undertaken into to what degree university departments of (a) religious and (b) Islamic studies are funded from overseas sources; and if he will make a statement. [114441]

Bill Rammell [holding answer 11 January 2007]: We do not collect data on overseas funding at the level of individual university departments. Data is collected through the Higher Education Statistics Agency on income from overseas sources but not below the level of individual institutions. In 2003/04 (the latest year for which we have detailed figures), the total income across the sector in England from non-EU overseas sources was £125 million from Research Grants and Contracts and £55 million from Other Services Rendered.

University Staff: Pay

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the effect of pay increases for university staff on institutions with no full time students. [114379]

Bill Rammell [holding answer 11 January 2007]: Since pay is a matter for higher education institutions themselves, as independent autonomous bodies, we have made no such assessment for any type of institution.


Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate he has made of the number of pupils in schools wearing hijabs or other veils. [115172]

Jim Knight: The requested information is not collected centrally.

Vocational Education

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many students have been assisted by centres for vocational education since their inception. [100624]

Phil Hope: This is a matter for the Learning and Skills Council as it leads on the delivery of Centres for Vocational Excellence. Mark Haysom, the chief executive of the Learning and Skills Council, has written to the hon. Member with the information on the number of students assisted by Centres of Vocational Excellence since their inception and a copy of his reply has been placed in the House Library.

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Letter from Mark Haysom, dated 8 December 2006:

Numbers of learners indicated as being on CoVE provision
Academic year FE Learners WBL Learners Total
























(1 )Not recorded. Note: 1. Learners are only counted if any of their programme was indicated as CoVE learning. 2. Numbers are rounded to the nearest 100 learners. 3. There is a known under-count of CoVE learners in 2002/03. 4. Learner counts are by year—if a learner was enrolled on a 2-year programme that learner would be counted in each year. 5. For 2001/02 recording of CoVE learners was not possible. 6. Learner recording system does not include non-LSC funded provision. Source: Individualised Learner Records for 2002/03, 2003/04, 2004/05, 2005/06.

Financial year Revenue Capital Total





































1. Financial projections are accurate as of December 2006. 2. Changes in status of CoVEs could delay payments across financial years. 3. Removal/withdrawal of status will reduce the total cost of the programme.

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Youth Opportunities: Basingstoke

Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many young people were not in education, employment or training in Basingstoke in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [114469]

Bill Rammell: There is no data available for those not in education, employment or training at this local level.

The Department has a target to reduce the proportion of 16 to 18-year-olds NEET by two percentage points by 2010.

There is a close alignment between poor educational attainment pre-16 and the likelihood of becoming NEET between the ages of 16 and 18. Our 14-19 reforms are aimed at raising attainment levels, and ensuring that as many young people as possible remain in education and training up to the age of 18.

Youth Matters set out a series of reforms aimed at improving the way in which services work together to support young people, particularly those most at risk of underachieving.

Trade and Industry

Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the Government plan to replace the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission. [113094]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government have no plans at this time to replace the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission, which was wound up in April 2005 following an independent review. The Government currently receive independent advice from the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment, which provides advice on the safety of proposed GM crop releases, while other existing bodies, such as the Sustainable Development Commission and the Science Advisory Council, provide expert and strategic advice on the interface between agriculture and the environment.

China-US Strategic Economic Dialogue

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the impact of the China-US Strategic Economic Dialogue on trade between (a) the EU and (b) the UK and (i) the US and (ii) China. [113847]

Mr. McCartney: The first US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue was held in Beijing on 14 and 15 December 2006. The dialogue redefined the bilateral economic relationship to reflect the 21st century global economy and move beyond bilateral disagreements over the currency, intellectual property protection and barriers to trade.

The dialogue focused on five key areas: urban/rural imbalances in China; macro-economic issues including
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promoting balanced and strong growth and China’s exchange rate reform; sustainable development through energy security; trade and investment; and environmental protection. There is scope for EU, UK through the EU where appropriate and US to work more closely together with China on these issues.

Christmas Hamper Schemes

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will bring forward new regulatory controls on the Christmas hamper schemes and related industries. [113739]

Mr. McCartney: I met the chief executive of the Office of Fair Trading on 8 November, and asked that the OFT work with the Financial Services Authority and DTI officials to look at the regulatory framework in which Farepak operated, and consider options to address any issues raised. OFT has now provided its preliminary views to DTI Ministers and we will be discussing these with OFT and FSA. The Government will also consider carefully the recent recommendations of the Treasury Select Committee in relation to savings clubs.

The Government have already announced that the DTI’s Companies Investigation Branch is conducting a confidential inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the failure of Farepak. DTI officials will seek to interview whomever they consider can assist them in their inquiries and the administrators will in due course report to the Secretary of State on the fitness or otherwise of the directors of Farepak.

Christmas Lights

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate his Department has made of the (a) cost, (b) electricity used and (c) carbon emissions generated by Christmas lights. [113855]

Malcolm Wicks: The Energy Savings Trust has estimated that the use of Christmas lights would increase total electricity bills by approximately £7.8 million. This is based upon an increased usage of 75 GWh, which equates to carbon emissions of approximately 33,000 tonnes of CO2. In context the 75 GWh consumption figures is approximately 0.02 per cent. of total annual UK electricity consumption.

Coal-fired Power Stations

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to promote the use of biomass in coal-fired power stations. [114118]

Malcolm Wicks: The Renewables Obligation (RO) is the Government's key policy for promoting renewable energy. Suppliers of electricity are obliged to supply an increasing percentage of electricity from renewable sources by surrendering Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) or pay a buy-out price. Those suppliers that surrender ROCs receive a share of the total buy-out fund. Co-firing of biomass in coal fired station is eligible for ROCs and suppliers can meet 10 per cent. obligation through co-firing. We are
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consulting on whether to remove the limit on co-firing in conjunction with banding the RO. Banding the RO will allow for technologies to be given more targeted levels of support through awarding multiple or fractional ROCs. Subject to assessment of responses to the consultation and passage of legislation, banding and removal of the co-firing cap could begin in April 2009.

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