Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether Chequers was included in official residences under (a) section 4.2 of the July 2005 Ministerial Code and (b) section 6.2 of the July 2007 Ministerial Code; which senior ministers were referred to in section 4.2 of the July 2005 Ministerial Code; and which official residences (i) senior ministers are required to live in for the purposes of the job, (ii) senior ministers are not required to live in for the purposes of the job and (iii) are not occupied by senior ministers. 
Mr. Watson: Official residences are assigned to Ministers by the Prime Minister either on grounds of security or in order to allow them to perform better their official duties. Rules on the use of official residences are set out in the Ministerial Code. Official residences available to Ministers are
The flats above Numbers 10 and 11 Downing street;
Flats in Admiralty House;
1 Carlton Gardens;
Hillsborough Castle and Stormont are available for Ministers in the Northern Ireland Office while on duty in Northern Ireland.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the measure of inflation is by which the cost of official ministerial residences for which other departments are billed by the Cabinet Office is adjusted each year. 
Mr. Watson: Occupying Departments are charged on the basis of actual costs. The elements of the charges which are subject to indexation are those relating to facilities management, which are increased on the basis of the average earnings index and the retail prices index.
Mr. Watson [holding answer 17 January 2008]: The Public Services Forum Task Group was established to take forward the Governments 2005 manifesto commitment to develop a compact with contractors and trade unions to ensure that employees working on Government contracts have access to skills, trade unions and advice should they wish. The group is attended by representatives from relevant departments, trade unions, business and the third sector.
Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment he has made of the performance of the Aimhigher Initiative in encouraging more pupils from deprived backgrounds to submit a UCAS application. 
Bill Rammell: The Aimhigher programme is a major initiative designed to widen participation in higher education (HE), and increase opportunities for people from under-represented groups to attend higher education institutions and courses where competition for places is fiercest and which offer the highest financial rates of return.
There have been various evaluations of the programme which show that it has had a positive impact on participants' attainment and their attitudes towards HE. In the programme's early years (2001 to 2002) when it was known as Aimhigher: Excellence Challenge (AH: EC), before it became a national programme, research showed that being part of AH: EC
(a) led to an improvement in the proportion, by 4.6 per cent, of Year 9 pupils attaining levels 4, 5 or 6 in Maths at Key Stage 3;
(b) involved improvement in nearly all measures of Year 11's GCSE results, with an average improvement in total points scored of 2.5, which corresponds to an increase of between two and three grades in one GCSE; and
(c) AH: EC Year 11 participants were more likely to say that they intended to take part in HE (by 3.9 percentage points).
Research conducted by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) showed that over 70 per cent. of universities responding to its survey said that Aimhigher added value to their widening participation policies and activities, that Aimhigher has provided a positive and welcome boost to their own efforts to widen participation in HE, and that this has translated into increased applications.
Given the long-term nature of widening participation in HE, and the complex interplay of factors that affect participation patterns, it is not possible to determine conclusively the effect that Aimhigher has had on applications made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). But we do know that Aimhigher makes a difference, because those who deliver and participate in it tell us so. And they can point at facts that support their casefor example, in the West Midlands over the last five years, the more disadvantaged communities have produced the largest increases in applications and acceptances. Those are the areas where Aimhigher
operates most intensively. And we know that in England, since the introduction of Aimhigher, there has been a steady increase in the number and proportion of entrants to HE who come from lower social class backgrounds. This is reflected in the most recent UCAS application data for 2008 entry. In England, the proportion of applicants at age 18 coming from lower social class backgrounds is up from 28.2 per cent. in 2007 to 28.9 per cent. this year.
Widening participation requires long-term address and we have announced the continuation of Aimhigher until 2011. We will continue to work with HEFCE to commission a national study to report before the end of 2011 on outcomes across the whole programme since 2004, when the unified, national Aimhigher was introduced. And at local level, Aimhigher Partnerships will determine the extent to which the Aimhigher programme has raised HE awareness, aspirations and attainment among participants and in participating institutions.
Mr. Lammy: World-class Apprenticeships announced the formation of a London Task Force, which I will chair, to overcome barriers to the growth of apprenticeships in London. The review also said that the Government would be strongly encouraging the companies with which they contract, including those involved in large strategic projects such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games, to employ apprentices on these projects.
There are, at present, 62 apprentices on-site at the Olympic Park. The Olympic Development Authority (ODA) is committed to get at least 2,000 people in apprenticeships and work placements (up to 2012) at the Olympic Park and other venues that the ODA is working on or building.
188 new Sport and Leisure Apprenticeships (Levels 2 and 3) in coaching, teaching and instruction, activity leadership and fitness for able bodied and disabled learners.
50 Advanced Apprenticeships in Sporting Excellence, in sports including athletics, swimming and tennis, to prepare elite Olympic and Paralympic athletes for competition in the 2012 Games.
A construction Apprenticeship preparation programme at Kings Cross enabling 100 16 to 18-year-olds to progress into employment with Carillion.
200 new customer service/hospitality Apprenticeships (Levels 2 and 3)this is informed by Skills for Business research (2007), which predicts 12,000 new customer service jobs by 2012, including hotel, conference, restaurant and catering managers.
The new National Apprenticeship Service, particularly the new matching service, will have a key focus on the 2012 Olympics. We expect that apprenticeship opportunities linked to the Olympics will increase as time progresses.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many of those providing apprenticeship training courses have had their contracts terminated as a result of poor performance since 2001. 
Mr. Lammy: The practice of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is to contract for apprenticeship places on an annual basis. In the case of a poorly performing contractor, the LSC works in-year to seek to raise performance, which includes agreeing specific improvement actions, rather than moving immediately to terminate a whole contract or the part of the contract that is considered substandard. To do otherwise could put at risk the opportunities of the apprentices concerned. Past performance is a key criterion in the allocation of annual contracts, and the trend over successive years has been for fewer companies to receive LSC contracts for apprenticeship places. Some of this pattern can be accounted for by mergers or acquisitions in the supplier market, but these can be linked to performance issues.
Data setting out the number of companies with which the LSC contracted in each of the years 2001/02 onwards is in the table. It should be noted that one company may hold more than one contract because the LSC contracts by apprenticeship framework.
Nigel Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) what steps he is taking to ensure the future of the Institute for Astronomy on the Blackford Hill site in Edinburgh; 
(2) what the proposed change in Science and Technology Facilities Council for funding the Astronomy Technology Centre (ATC), Edinburgh is in (a) percentage and (b) cash terms; and what assessment he has made of the likely effect of that change on the ATC's work; 
(3) what staff changes are being considered by the Science and Technology Facilities Council for (a) Daresbury, (b) the Astronomy Technology Centre, Edinburgh and (c) the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. 
Ian Pearson: The UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC), which is owned by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), is a world leader in the design and construction of instruments for many of the world's major telescopes. However, the STFC's demand for its services has declined since the UK joined the European Southern Observatory in 2002.
The STFC is looking at the future of the Astronomy Technology Centre in relation to the potential demand for its services and the council's science budget allocation. The STFC is exploring the possibility of a partnership that makes use of the unique skills in the ATC and applies them to a wider portfolio, and it will seek to work with the local universities and local funding agencies in taking that forward. It is too early to say what the outcome of these discussions will be.
STFC issued a notice on 2 January calling for voluntary redundancies across all its activities. In line with previous announcements, the SRS (Synchrotron Radiation Source) at Daresbury will close on 31 December 2008, but the STFC has not taken a decision on whether any compulsory redundancies (other than those relating to SRS) will be needed.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much his Department has spent on refreshments for meetings since its establishment; and at what cost per meeting. 
Mr. Lammy: The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills was created as a result of Machinery of Government changes in June 2007. Information on refreshments is not held centrally and therefore this information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Lammy: Ministers from the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and from the former Department for Education and Skills, together with Ministers from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, agreed the following A items at EU Council meetings.
1. Management Board of the European Chemicals AgencyReplacement of one member 14265/07 COMPET 297 ENV 549 CHIMIE 33 13731/07 COMPET 278 ENV 509 CHIMIE 27 + COR 1
2. Adoption of a Council Regulation adapting Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), by reason of the accession of Bulgaria and Romania 13366/07 COMPET 268 ENV 484 CHIMIE 25 MI 226 ENT 116+ COR 1 (fi) 14036/07 COMPET 287 ENV 524 CHIMIE 29 MI 242 ENT 128
3. Amended proposal for a Council Decision on the conclusion of the Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters on the provisional application of the Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided for in the Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Madagascar on fishing off the coast of Madagascar for the period from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2012Adoption 14387/07 PECHE 309 13153/1/07 PECHE 271 REV 1 + REV 1 COR 1 (bg) + REV 2 (lv)
4. Amended proposal for a Council Regulation on the conclusion of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of MadagascarAdoption 14388/07 PECHE 310 13154/07 PECHE 272
5. Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directives 89/665/EEC and 92/13/EEC with regard to improving the effectiveness of review procedures concerning the award of public contractsAdoption of the legislative act PE-CONS 3634/07 MAP 20 CODEC 713 + COR 1 (sv)+ REV 1 (hu)+ REV 2 (fr)+ REV 4 (el)14241/07 CODEC 1117 MAP 22 + ADD 1 + ADD 1 COR 1 (fr)
1. Governing Board of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) (a) Appointment of Ms Valentina DEIKOVA (BG), Mr. Enrico Eugenio CECCOTTI (IT), Ms Madlen SERBAN (RO) and Mr. Piotr BARTOSIAK (PL), members in the category of Government representatives (b) Appointment of Ms Galia BOZHANOVA (BG), Ms llona KIUKUCANE (LV) and Mr. Ion HOHAN (RO), members in the category of representatives of Employers organisations (c) Appointment of Mr. Jef MAES (BE), Ms Svetla TONEVA (BG), Ms Ilze TRAPENCIERE (LV), Mr. Gheorghe SIMION (RO) and Mr. Zygmunt CYBULSKI (PL), members in the category of representatives of Employees organisations 9336/07 EDUC 89 SOC 188
2. Adoption of a Council Decision establishing the position to be adopted on behalf of the European Community with regards to certain proposals submitted to the 14(th )meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (The Hague, Netherlands, 3-15 June 2007) 9198/07 ENV 230 WTO 107 + COR 1 (et) + ADD 1
3. European Economic and Social CommitteeAppointment of two Dutch members (Mr. Meijer and Ms Van Wezel) 8629/07 JUR 160 CES 13 9309/1/07 REV 1 CES 16
4. Committee of the RegionsAppointment of an alternate member (BE) 8794/07 CDR 43 JUR 165 8795/07 CDR 44 + COR 1
5. Proposal for a Council Decision on the conclusion of Agreements in the form of agreed minutes on the modification of concessions with respect to poultry meat between the European Community and the Federal Republic of Brazil, and between the European Community and the Kingdom of Thailand pursuant to Article XXVIII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT 1994)
Proposal for a Council Regulation concerning the implementation of Agreements concluded by the EC following negotiations in the framework of Article XXVIII of GATT 1994, amending and supplementing Annex I to Regulation (ECC) n(o) 2658/87 on the tariff and statistical nomenclature and on the Common Customs Tariff 8486/1/07 REV 1 WTO 74 AGRI 115 8488/07 WTO 75 AGRI 116 + COR 1 + REV 1 (ro) 9280/07 WTO 110 AGRI 140 + REV 1 (ro)
6. Council Decision on the conclusion of the Protocol to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an Association between the European Community and its member states, of the one part, and the Peoples Democratic Republic of Algeria, of the other part, to take account of the accession of the Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Malta, the Republic of Poland, the Republic of Slovenia and the Slovak Republic to the European Union Request by the Council for the assent of the European Parliament 9703/07 AL 13 8937/07 AL 9 7812//07 AL 5 + REV 1 (en) + REV 2 (sl)
7. Relations with Lebanon