Previous Section Index Home Page

28 Feb 2008 : Column 1913W—continued

Review of Government Information Assurance

Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will place in the Library a copy of Nick Coleman’s 2007 Review of Government Information Assurance. [181233]

Mr. Watson: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 19 February 2008, Official Report , column 689W, to the hon. Member for Tunbridge Wells (Greg Clark).

Voluntary Organisations: Driving

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) what discussions he has had with representatives of (a) the third sector and (b) insurance providers on the personal insurance liability of drivers when they volunteer as car and minibus drivers for voluntary organisations; [188328]

(2) what discussions he has had with Ministerial colleagues on local authority provision of insurance for volunteer minibus drivers providing services within the third sector. [188330]

Phil Hope: In 2002 the Home Office Active Communities Directorate, which is now part of the Office of the Third Sector in the Cabinet Office, set up the Working Group on Insurance and the Voluntary Sector. The Working Group sought to address the concerns of the voluntary sector about the cost of insurance premiums. It included officials from Government and representatives from the insurance industry and the third sector. The work of the group included discussions on personal insurance liability for volunteer drivers. The working group met on a number of occasions and ceased its work in 2005. As a direct result of the group’s work two documents were published to help third sector organisations address
28 Feb 2008 : Column 1914W
insurance issues. The first was a risk toolkit produced by Volunteering England and the second a document by the Association of British Insurers. Both provide advice on insurance for volunteers and the third sector. Copies of these documents have been placed in the Library.

The possibility of local authority provision of insurance for volunteer minibus drivers has not been the subject of discussions with ministerial colleagues.

International Development

Afghanistan: Electricity

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the availability of supply of (a) electricity and (b) water in Afghanistan; what assessment he has made of such availability in each year since 2001; and if he will make a statement. [190003]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 22 November 2007, Official Report, column 1086W.

Bolivia: Overseas Aid

Colin Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 24 January 2008, Official Report, columns 60-1WS, on Latin America (Development), which organisations in Bolivia will receive funding and what conflict sensitive assessment of funding disbursement will be conducted in the light of separatist inspired violence in Bolivia. [188879]

Mr. Malik: Additional funding will be channelled to a shortlist of UK non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in Latin America that currently receive funding through our programme partnership agreement. However, allocations to specific organisations have not yet been made, so it is not possible at this stage to say which organisations in Bolivia will receive funding. Once allocations are decided I will be happy to provide this information.

DFID is committed through our conflict policy paper to ensuring that our development work takes better account of its possible effects on conflict.

Currently the Department is piloting ‘conflict audits’ in a number of countries to help us review how well we integrate conflict into our development work. In addition, we are working with UK NGOs on learning lessons about the conflict sensitivity of development programmes. We expect to work with the UK NGOs in Latin America, including Bolivia, to apply these lessons.

Departmental Disciplinary Proceedings

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many of his Department’s civil servants have been (a) suspended and (b) dismissed for accessing (i) obscene and (ii) other prohibited material on work computers in each of the last five years. [188782]

28 Feb 2008 : Column 1915W

Gillian Merron: The holding of a central disciplinary record commenced in October 2004. DFID suspended and dismissed fewer than five civil servants for accessing obscene material on DFID computers in 2005. There were no cases of accessing other prohibited material.

Drinking Water

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department spent on bottled water in the latest year for which figures are available. [189796]

Mr. Malik: The Department for International Development (DFID) has recently changed its restaurant service provider, and detailed records are not available. However, we estimate that DFID has spent in the region of £10,500 last year. Bottled water was provided for some official meetings in accordance with the principles of Managing Public Money. Since January 2008, however, we no longer purchase bottled mineral water but instead use bottled filtered mains water that is prepared on site. This change was made on the grounds of economy and environmental benefits.

Innovation, Universities and Skills

Departmental Telephone Services

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) which telephone contact centres are the responsibility of his Department; what mechanisms are in place to monitor their effectiveness; and how many people have been employed in each of those centres in each year since they were established; [166528]

(2) what information his Department collects and monitors in relation to the telephone contact centres for which his Department is responsible; [166529]

(3) how much each telephone contact centre for which his Department is responsible has (a) cost and (b) generated in income in each financial year since their establishment; [166530]

(4) when he will answer Questions (a) 166530, (b) 166528, and (c) 166529, on telephone contact centres, tabled on 15 November 2007 by the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne; [190876]

Mr. Lammy: The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills has only been in existence since June 2007, when it was formed from elements of the old Department for Education and Skills (now Department for Children, Schools and Families) and Department for Trade and Industry (now Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform). DIUS currently relies on DCSF and BERR to provide telephone inquiry services on its behalf and I would refer you to the answers they have given to this question.

The cost of running the Aimhigher Student Finance contact centre since the DIUS began (end June 2007) has been £117,247,84. This is a freephone line so has generated no income.

The contract for this service includes the provision of data by the supplier to enable the Department to ensure the supplier is meeting the key performance indicators set out in the contract.

28 Feb 2008 : Column 1916W

Education: Carers

Dr. Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps he is considering to encourage unpaid carers to access learning opportunities in mainstream education; and if he will make a statement. [189213]

Mr. Lammy: The Department has agreed with the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) that it will produce a special leaflet for learning providers highlighting carer issues and promoting the extra uplift in learner support funding which is available to learning providers. Additionally the LSC will issue a new leaflet produced by the National Institute for Continuing Adult Education (NIACE) which promotes learning for carers. This will be used to promote the opportunities that can be made available to carers.

The Department has contributed to the Employment Task Force review of the New Deal for Carers Strategy with recommendations to improve access to learning for carers. The report is expected to be published in May 2008.

Adult learners, including carers, on low incomes and in receipt of an income-based benefit are entitled to access Further Education (FE) free of charge. In addition adult learners, including carers, with low skills who wish to access basic literacy and numeracy courses, a first full level 2 course or who are aged 19-25 years and who wish to access a first full level 3 course, are entitled to access these courses free of charge. Young people aged 16-18 can access learning opportunities in mainstream education free of charge.

Higher Education: Expenditure

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much expenditure on higher education research projects has been used to buy-out the teaching time of the researchers in the latest year for which figures are available. [186392]

Ian Pearson: Since the introduction of the full economic costs (FEC) regime in April 2006, Research Councils have ceased to provide specific funding to buy-out the teaching time of researchers. Specific buy-out funding is included in some grants that started before that date, and have yet to be completed.

Under FEC, funding is provided for the research time of academic staff. During the year July 2006 to June 2007, the amount committed by Research Councils to cover researcher time (taking Principal Investigators and Co-investigators for all eligible organisations) amounted to £110 million for direct costs, plus £80 million for overhead costs.

ICT: Training

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much has been spent from (a) the Capital Modernisation Fund and (b) the New Opportunities Fund on establishing UK online centres in West Lancashire constituency since 2000; and if he will make a statement. [189809]

28 Feb 2008 : Column 1917W

Mr. Lammy: UK online centres were established by the then Department for Education and Employment from 1999. These centres are effective in reaching out to the most excluded in communities and have helped reduce the digital divide by providing individuals with access to the internet and e-learning.

Nationally, £199 million capital funding was made available from the Treasury’s Capital Modernisation Fund and £77.5 million revenue funding from the New Opportunities Fund (now called the Big Lottery Fund) to help fund UK online centres in deprived communities. Information is not held at constituency level and the details requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps he has taken to encourage innovation in his Department in the last 12 months. [180355]

Ian Pearson: The departmental strategic objectives published in October 2007 set out the Department's aim to be innovative in what we do, and a programme of work is in place which will help ensure we achieve this. For example, rather than having fixed desks and workstations, all staff (including the Permanent Secretary) have been issued instead with lap top computers which will support more effective and flexible working practices. A pool of policy specialists is being created, enabling a quicker response to deal with particular issues. This will all be underpinned through the development of a new set of corporate values and behaviours and a culture that will ensure that DIUS operates innovatively and effectively.

The Department is committed to working openly with partners and customers. For example, we now have a Minister with explicit responsibility for listening to students and ensuring the student voice is heard in Government. We are also working with our partners, including students in universities and colleges, on issues such as the redesign of our London office.

The Department also has the overall responsibility on behalf of Government to promote the commercial exploitation of creativity and knowledge by supporting research and innovation. We aim to create the right environment for innovation through a combination of: investment in the science base; financial support for companies; fiscal incentives for innovation; and through maintaining a world class innovation infrastructure in the UK. In order to lead this work the Department has appointed a Director of Innovation for driving forward its work in this area.

Postgraduate Education: Arts

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what financial provisions were made available to students for postgraduate education in the arts in 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. [185308]

Ian Pearson: In 2007 the Arts and Humanities Research Council made postgraduate training awards to students in the arts worth a total of £6 million.

28 Feb 2008 : Column 1918W

Research: University of Wales

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent initiatives have been taken by his Department's technology strategy board to promote the commercialisation of research findings from the University of Wales. [186820]

Ian Pearson: The business focused Technology Strategy Board currently supports 27 collaborative R and D projects involving the University of Wales and its affiliated institutions. This translates to grant funding worth £7.16 million. This support enables business and research communities to work together on R and D projects from which successful new products, processes and services can emerge.

The Technology Strategy Board is also providing support for 31 Knowledge Transfer Partnerships involving the University of Wales. Knowledge Transfer Partnerships enable companies to access knowledge and skills from the UK knowledge base (further and higher education institutions or research organisations) for use in the strategic development of the business. Each partnership employs one or more high-calibre KTP associate (NVQ Level 4 in an appropriate subject; HMD; foundation degree; degree and higher degree; post-doc) for a project lasting one to three years.

Skilled Workers: Lancashire

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many employees in West Lancashire constituency are covered by the Government’s Skills Pledge. [189805]

Mr. Lammy: As at December 2007 there were four employers covering 440 employees in the West Lancashire constituency who have made the Skills Pledge.

Students: Finance

Helen Southworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) if he will review the definition of taxable income as applied to the income of a student's natural parents, the parent's partner and the student's partner to exclude such part of a pension income as is paid to an ex-partner under a divorce settlement in developing future financial assessment policy for student support arrangements; [184399]

(2) when he will provide an answer to question 184399, on student support, tabled on 30 January 2008 by the hon. Member for Warrington, South. [189322]

Bill Rammell: The assessment of a student’s entitlement to financial support while attending a course of higher education is based on the student’s household income. This is generally the residual income of the eligible student, aggregated with the residual income of the student’s parents; or where appropriate the student’s parent’s partner, the student’s spouse or partner.

For the purposes of determining the residual income of an eligible student and the relevant people in the household, certain specified deductions are made from their taxable income. ‘Taxable income’ is defined in the Student Support Regulations as a person’s taxable
28 Feb 2008 : Column 1919W
income from all sources computed as for the purposes of either (i) the Income Tax Acts; (ii) the income tax legislation of another member state which applies to the person’s income; or (iii) where the legislation of more than one member state applies, the legislation under which the person in question is considered to be paying the largest amount of tax during the period covered by the assessment. Such taxable income includes taxable pension income.

The Government have no plans to review the current financial assessment procedures.

Next Section Index Home Page