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Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the number of jobs that the National Skills Academy for Construction will create by 2016. 
The National Skills Academy for Construction (NSAfC) has been established to provide sector specific training not to create jobs. However, the NSAfC estimate that those joining the industry through apprenticeships and adult traineeships via the National Skills Academy for Construction projects could exceed 2,500 over the next nine years. In addition to newcomers to the industry, the NSAfC will be focusing on upskilling existing construction sector employees.
James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussions Ministers and officials from his Department have had with internet service providers on the adoption of minimum standards of security offered to consumers; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms: Officials in the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform are in regular contact with the internet service providers and bodies associated with the industry on a range of consumer issues. These issues include what actions the industry can take to improve the standard of security that a consumer may expect from a service provider. These discussions are also addressing other consumer issues relating to access to harmful content.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether his Department commissioned any external assessment of applications for funding under the Partnership at Work Fund programme. 
Mr. McFadden: The Department commissioned the Industrial Relations Research Unit at the University of Warwick to undertake an evaluation of the Partnership Fund. This was published in 2003 as Employment Relations Research Series No. 17.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the cost to his Department of administering the Partnership at Work Fund programme was in each year since 1999. 
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform who was responsible for the decision to instruct Post Office Ltd. to postpone the post office network change programme pending the May 2008 municipal and local authority elections in England and Wales. 
Mr. McFadden: Cabinet Office guidelines clearly state that consultations should not be launched, and decisions relating to them announced, in an election period. Successive Administrations of both parties have observed these arrangements for many years.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the timetable is for the Post Office to finalise assessments of sub-post offices in Lancashire; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McFadden [holding answer 12 December 2007]: Post Office Ltd. expects that the consultation on the area plan proposals for post office closures and new outreach services in Lancashire and Fylde with Southport will commence 22 January 2008 and conclude 3 March 2008. I understand that Post Office Ltd. expects to announce final decisions in early April 2008.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the timetable is for the Post Office to finalise assessments for sub-post offices in Tamworth constituency. 
Mr. McFadden: Post Office Ltd. expects that the consultation on the area plan proposals for post office closures and new outreach services in Tamworth will commence 1 April 2008 and conclude 9 June 2008. I understand that Post Office Ltd. expects to announce final decisions in early July 2008.
Des Browne: All insurgents who surrender either to the Afghan National Security Forces or the International Security Assistance Force are held in the custody of the Afghan authorities. No information is held on whether any detainees who may be released by the Afghan Government subsequently rejoin the insurgency.
Des Browne: The recent operation by the government of Afghanistan to reassert its authority over Musa Qaleh, which was fully supported by coalition forces, has so far proceeded according to plan. Establishing security in that area will enable reconstruction and economic development, which will benefit all the local population.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 11 December 2007]: In my written ministerial statement of 25 July 2007, Official Report, column 74WS, I confirmed that work was continuing to progress the sale option for DARA's rotary wing and components businesses. I also announced that Vector Aerospace was selected as the preferred bidder and that if sale did not show MOD best value for defence then these business units would form part of a new defence support organisation being created by merging DARA's remaining businesses with ABRO.
No decision has yet been taken as to whether the sale offers and delivers the best overall value for defence and provides a better long-term future for these businesses and their employees. We recognise the important role that all employees and industry play in supporting the armed forces. Negotiations are continuing with Vector
Aerospace and we will arrive at a final decision as soon as possible to remove uncertainty for DARA's rotary and components staff.
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Mr. Carswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons contract amendments relating to equipment acquisition programmes are proposed by his Department; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Contract amendments relating to equipment acquisition programmes are proposed where it is appropriate to meet the Departments business needs and are agreed between the parties to the contract, or where there are legislative changes.
Mr. Carswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence under what circumstances he would require would-be contractors to spend their own or third party funds on advancing the development of new equipment for the armed forces; how this requirement is conveyed to contractors; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) conveys its future industrial and technological requirements to potential contractors via the Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS) and the Defence Technology Strategy (DTS), respectively.
DIS and DTS bring clarity to the MODs research and development (R and D) priorities, and provide a strategic view of the UKs defence R and D requirements for up to the next 10 years. They give industry a better understanding of where the MOD will invest its limited R and D budget, and thereby encourage industry to increase its investment in areas that are of importance to us. Copies of these strategies are available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Carswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons post design services contracts as they relate to equipment acquisition programmes are awarded by his Department; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: As part of the Departments commercial transformation, there has been a shift from traditional support arrangements with separate contracts for post design services, spares and maintenance, to integrated, innovative output-based support solutions. These are designed to optimise levels of service through life and to achieve better value for money.
Mr. Carswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the Answer of 29 October 2007, Official Report, columns 959-60W, on defence: procurement, what proportion of offer prices quoted by contractors on (a) equipment programmes worth more than £100 million and (b) other programmes were within (i) 10 per cent., (ii) six per cent. and (iii) two per cent. of the corresponding expenditure figure advertised as a guide to suppliers within the MoD Defence Contractors Bulletin value banding information or elsewhere by his Department in the last period for which figures are available; what proportion of offer prices were greater than the guide figures; and what mechanisms are in place to ensure price competitiveness in the procurement process. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The MOD uses competition where it can to ensure price competitiveness. Where competition is not a valid option, the MOD uses its well established non-competitive pricing arrangements to agree a fair and reasonable price for a contract.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the standard terms and conditions of purchase used by his Department in procurement of goods and services from the private sector prohibit the assignment of debt. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The standard terms and conditions used by the MOD in the procurement of goods and services from the private sector do not prohibit the assignment of debt owed by the private sector.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answers of 26 November 2007, Official Report, column 41W, on fisheries: Navy, for what reasons there were no river class offshore patrol vessels in operation on (a) 27 April 2007, (b) 28 April 2007 and (c) 11 October 2007; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There were no river class patrol vessels patrolling on 27 and 28 April 2007 as all three were on stand off activities (i.e. periods off task designated for activities such as handovers, stores replenishment and crew rest and recreation). On 11 October 2007 members of the crews of HMS Mersey and HMS Severn were engaged on naval training and HMS Tyne was de-ammunitioning prior to a docking period. Fishery protection duties were undertaken by Hunt Class vessels on each of the three days specified.
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