Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many and what percentage of children aged (a) 13, (b) 14, (c) 15, (d) 16 and (e) 17 years received careers advice at school in the last period for which figures are available. 
Beverley Hughes: Careers advice falls under the wider information advice and guidance (IAG) remit of the Connexions Service. Information on Connexions' interventions with young people is collected centrally, but we do not collect information specifically relating to careers advice given in schools.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether his Department has approved for purchase with e-learning credits technologies which would facilitate the collection of biometric data. 
Jim Knight [holding answer 22 January 2007]: The Department does not collect this specific information but only products to support the teaching of the national curriculum in England are eligible for e-learning credits (eLCs).
The DfES publishes guidelines which cover the criteria against which software products will be judged to be eligible for certification and inclusion in the Curriculum Online catalogue, and therefore eligible for eLCs.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what types of systems and software his Department has approved for purchase with e-learning credits. 
Jim Knight [holding answer 22 January 2007]: The DfES publishes guidelines which cover the criteria against which software products will be judged to be eligible for certification and inclusion in the Curriculum Online catalogue, and therefore eligible for e-learning credits. The guidelines are at:
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps are being taken to assess the training needs of school and college staff before the introduction of specialised diplomas. 
Phil Hope: As part of the Diploma Gateway process, each consortia applying to deliver the diplomas completed an assessment of their requirements in terms of development for current staff and recruitment. Successful consortiums will have assessed the skills and training needs of their staff.
In addition, the Department is putting in place a support package that will provide the workforce with the tools to assess current skills. The Centre for Excellence in Leadership and the National College for School Leadership are leading a project to support leaders and managers in developing the skills necessary to implement the diplomas, including assessing and managing training needs. Additionally the Training and Development Agency for Schools and Lifelong Learning UK are producing a professional development toolkit for teachers. This will look at the specific skills and knowledge needed to teach the diplomas and use the existing teaching standards frameworks to make recommendations about development priorities.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the net yield from business rates was in England in each year since 1996-97; and what it is expected to be in 2006-07. 
|Net rate yields
|(1) Contribution in lieu of rates for crown properties. Most crown properties transferred to local lists with effect from 2000-01.
NNDR returns; central government information on central and crown lists.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which external consultancy (a) firms and (b) organisations her Department has commissioned (i) to conduct research and (ii) to provide advice in relation to (A) council tax and (B) home information packs since 2002. 
Mr. Woolas: Since 2002 my Department or its predecessors has commissioned no external firms or organisations to conduct research or to provide advice specifically on council tax. Research for the balance of funding review did, however, touch on council tax within a wider consideration of the financing of local government. The research commissioned may be found on my Departments website at:
University of CardiffInternational lessons on the balance of funding
NOP WorldDeliberative public focus groups on the balance of funding
University of PlymouthRelationship between the balance of funding and voter turnout in local government elections.
The home information pack programme is bringing about major changes to the multi-billion pound home buying and selling industry to the benefit of consumers and the environment. The work has included developing and testing the home condition report and the energy performance certificate; putting in place a quality assurance framework to protect consumers and guarantee standards; developing the necessary systems and explaining the changes to the public and industry stakeholders. This has required a wide range of technical and professional expertise to implement that the Department either does not have or does not have in sufficient quantity.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance has been given to local authorities about whether residents may pay for their yearly council tax bill in 10 or 12 instalments. 
The Council Tax: Practice Note 5 originally issued to local authorities by the Department of the Environment in 1992 and re-issued on 29 April 1994, makes clear that authorities may agree council
tax payment arrangements with taxpayers that differ from the normal statutory minimum, often monthly, instalments. Council Taxa guide to your bill published by this Department makes clear that local authorities may agree, although usually only in exceptional circumstances, to payment of council tax bills over 12 rather than 10 months.
Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department spent in each of the Government office regions in the most recent year for which figures are available. 
Identifiable spending in each region of England for 2004-05 (latest available data) is contained within table 7.19 of the 2006 edition of PESA. Data relating to spending which is now the responsibility of the Department for Communities and Local Government are shown under the heading of the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which fixed assets her Department sold for more than £10,000 in (a) 2004-05 and (b) 2005-06; and what the (i) sale value, (ii) purchaser and (iii) date of sale was of each asset. 
Angela E. Smith: The Department for Communities and Local Governments predecessor department, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, sold no fixed assets for more than £10,000 in (a) 2004-05 and (b) 2005-06.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government are taking to support the European Year of Equal Opportunities; what activities her Department has organised to celebrate the European Year of Equal Opportunities; what funding the Government are providing for events organised as part of the European Year of Equal Opportunities; and which Ministers will be attending the Equality Summit being held by the European Parliament as part of the European Year of Equal Opportunities. 
The Government will organise a series of events around the country to promote the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All. In order to maximise the impact and sustainability of these events, the Governments intention is to link this work as far as possible to the launch of the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights, which is scheduled for
October of this year. The overall budget and the final plans for the year will depend on the level of co-financing from the European Commission, which is expected to be around £450,000. The Government intend to contribute a similar amount. Confirmation of the level of the European Commissions contribution is expected in March. Activities in the UK to promote the year should start in April. My hon. Friend the Minister for Women and Equality intends to attend the Equality Summit being held by the German presidency of the EU in Berlin on 30 to 31 January.
Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was spent by each of her Departments Executive agencies in each of the Government office regions in the most recent year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which Executive agencies are the responsibility of her Department; what the function is of each agency; and what the budget was of each agency in the most recent year for which figures are available. 
Angela E. Smith: Information on the Executive agencies sponsored by the Department for Communities and Local Government can be found in their annual reports and accounts, copies of which are in the Library and which are also online as follows: