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6 Jun 2007 : Column 510W—continued

These costs are rounded to the nearest £1 million and cover property damage and the costs of the fire and rescue services attending the fires. They do not include the consequential costs of, for instance, providing alternative accommodation when need, or disruption to education. However, these costs are taken account of in the fire risk assessment tool which I launched on 26 February. This provides clear guidance on when sprinklers should be installed, and our presumption is that all new schools will have them fitted.

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Special Educational Needs: Teaching Aids

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on alternative formats for educational material for visually impaired and dyslexic children. [140429]

Mr. Dhanda: The Department's SEN atrategy ‘Removing Barriers to Achievement’ sets out our vision for giving children with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities the opportunity to succeed. Provision for children with SEN and disabilities, including support for those with a visual impairment is made by schools and local authorities through the SEN and disability frameworks.

In particular, part 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 requires schools and local authorities to plan to improve access to the curriculum and written materials for disabled pupils over time. In addition, the new disability equality duty introduced by the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 requires all public bodies including schools and local authorities to promote disability equality more widely. We also continue to invest significant resources to support the education of children with SEN and disabilities; some £4.5 billion in 2006/07.

To assist the provision of materials in accessible alternative formats for children with a visual impairment, the Government supported the Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Act 2002 which reduces delays in gaining copyright clearance to produce books and other printed materials in formats accessible to visually impaired people. The Department of Trade and Industry is also working on a feasibility study to look at opportunities for publishers to provide education material in accessible formats more quickly and the Department for Education and Skills is involved in the process.

Specialist Schools

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what mechanisms are in place for monitoring the effectiveness of Government-funded programmes run by the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust; and what independent assessments have been undertaken of these programmes; [139923]

(2) how much has been paid by his Department to the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and its predecessor the Specialist Schools Trust in each year since 1997, broken down by category of funding. [139924]

Jim Knight [holding answer 4 June 2007]: The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT), and its predecessor bodies, is a charitable company limited by guarantee. The Department for Education and Skills funds the SSAT, through grant and contracts, to support the specialist schools and academies programmes and a range of other activities designed to raise pupil achievement. This funding is subject to standard monitoring procedures, and appropriate reporting mechanisms are agreed in each case.

There are several independent assessments of the programmes for which the SSAT currently receive funding, for example, Ofsted evaluations of the
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specialist schools programme in 2001 and 2005, and the annual extensive longitudinal evaluation of the academies programme by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC).

The total amounts paid to SSAT each year since 1997 are set out in the following table.

Specialist school grant( 1) Other grants Contracts









2000 -01


























(1) Including academies grant from 2004-05

Trade and Industry

Companies: Insolvency

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to limit the amount administrators can charge in the event of a company going into administration. [140822]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The insolvency rules already give creditors the right to apply to court for an order that the administrator's remuneration be reduced in circumstances where they consider it to be excessive. The insolvency profession is also a regulated profession and as such all insolvency office-holders are authorised and are required to follow industry standards, published in the form of statements of insolvency practice.

Although the Government have no plans to limit the amount of remuneration that administrators may draw, The Insolvency Service is undertaking a project to modernise the insolvency rules. One of the changes being considered is a requirement for all insolvency office-holders to provide details of remuneration charged on a regular basis and to provide creditors with clear rights to seek better particulars and to enable them to challenge those amounts where they consider them to be excessive. This should ensure greater transparency and accountability for creditors of amounts of remuneration drawn by administrators and other office-holders.

Mobile Phones: Health Hazards

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what typical levels of radiation are emitted by a mobile telephone during use; at what distance from a mobile telephone mast with a maximum licensed power of 32 dbW a person is subject to (a) the equivalent, (b) 10 per cent. and (c) 1 per cent. of this level of radiation; and whether these statistics are affected when multiple carriers are using the same mast. [137343]

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Caroline Flint: I have been asked to reply.

The question is framed in terms of emissions, whereas public exposure is the real point of interest. I am informed by the Health Protection Agency's Radiation Protection Division (HPA-RPD) that it is neither straightforward nor meaningful to perform the calculation requested because of the different beam patterns formed by different types of base station antennas and mobile phones, and the consequent different spatial distributions of absorbed energy in the body. Moreover, any region around a high-powered base station site, e.g. with 32 dbW output, where localised exposure of the head could be comparable to that from using a mobile phone would not normally be accessible to the general public.

The HPA-RPD, has advised that the electromagnetic field exposure guidelines published by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) should be adopted in the United Kingdom. The ICNIRP guidelines are set to avoid adverse effects of exposure on health. Mobile phone base station installations in the UK are designed to comply with the ICNIRP exposure guidelines, as are mobile phones.

Techniques for measuring specific absorption rate (SAR) in the head when a phone is held to the ear have been standardised and the information for individual handsets can be found on the website of the Mobile Manufacturer's Forum at Typically the SAR values quoted for mobile phones are in the range of 20-70 per cent. of the ICNIRP guidelines.

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Ofcom (and formerly the Radiocommunications Agency) has been performing an audit involving measurements of exposure to base station signals at many different sites in the UK since 2001. The maximum exposures measured are well below the ICNIRP reference level. Information about the audit is available at

In summary, it is difficult to readily compare base station exposures and mobile phone exposures because the pattern of absorption of radio energy in the body is different. In both cases, public exposure is expected to be within the ICNIRP guidelines, and by a considerable margin for base stations.

New Businesses: North West Region

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many business start-ups there were in the north-west in each year since 1997. [140085]

Margaret Hodge: Value added tax (VAT) registrations and de-registrations are currently the best guide to the pattern of business start-ups and closures. DTI data on the number of VAT registrations, and the start of year stock of VAT registered businesses in the north-west from 1997 to 2005 are shown in the following table. Data for 2006 will be available autumn 2007.

VAT registrations and start of year VAT stock in the north-west
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006























Business Start-ups and Closures: VAT Registrations and De-registrations 1994-2005, Small Business Service, available at:

Although numbers of registrations in the north-west have remained fairly constant, the start of year stock has risen by 11 per cent. over the period.

VAT registration and de-registration data do not capture all business activity. Businesses are unlikely to be registered if their turnover falls below the compulsory VAT threshold, which has risen in each year since 1997. Similarly, businesses that de-register may not have closed. Only 1.8 million out of 4.3 million businesses (42 per cent.) were registered for VAT at the start of 2005.

Northern Ireland

Departments: Ministerial Policy Advisers

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many of his Department's special advisers were on (a) paid and (b) unpaid leave in order to assist with party political matters under section 22 (iii) of the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers on Wednesday 16 May 2007; and how many days' leave each adviser was granted. [140128]

Mr. Hain: Special advisers' involvement in party political matters is conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers, including section 22 (iii), and the guidance issued by the Cabinet Secretary in December 2006 and May 2007, copies of which are in the Libraries of the House.

Northern Ireland Office special advisers are complying fully with this guidance. As with all civil servants, annual leave is a personal matter and it is not the practice of the Department to disclose when individuals have taken annual leave.

Departments: Official Cars

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the total cost to his Department was of the ministerial car fleet in each year since the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly; and what the total cost to the Department of Finance and Personnel was of the car fleet in each year of the devolved Assembly. [132211]

Mr. Hain: My ministerial team and I use the Government Car Service when in Great Britain. Costs of this service are as follows:

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Amount (£)















(1) Since 1 April 2007

The Police Service of Northern Ireland provide ministerial close protection when we are in Northern Ireland, the cost of which is only held centrally for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 financial years. This information is as follows:








The Government are not responsible for costs of the ministerial car fleet for the devolved Administration.

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