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1 Apr 2008 : Column 837Wcontinued
Caribbean, Mexico and Central America Team
North America Team
South America Team
Far Eastern Group
South East Asia and Pacific Group
Internal Communication and Public Relations Group
Public Diplomacy Group
Consular Assistance Group
Consular Crisis Group
Passport and Documentary Services Group
Consular Resources Group
Consular Strategy, Communications and Training Group
Directorate for Defence and Strategic Threats
Counter Proliferation Department
Counter Terrorism Department
Drugs and International Crime Department
Europe Delivery Group
Europe Global Group
Enlargement South East and Wider Europe Group
Western Mediterranean Group
Western Balkans Group
FCO Response Centre
Global and Economic Issues Directorate
Climate Change and Energy Group
Global Economy Group
Science and Innovation Group
Sustainable Development and Business Group
Human Resources Directorate
Information and Technology Directorate
International Security Directorate
Human Rights, Democracy and Good Governance Group
International Organisations Department
Security Policy Department
Middle East and North Africa Directorate
Arab Israel and North Africa Group
Arabian Peninsula Group
Iran Coordination Group
Ministerial Support Unit
Overseas Territories Directorate
Parliamentary Relations Team
Permanent Under Secretary's Office
Policy Planning Staff
Russia, South Caucasus and Central Asia Directorate
Security and Estates Directorate
South Asia and Afghanistan Directorate
Afghanistan Drugs Interdepartmental Unit
South Asia Group
UK Trade and Investment*
Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the policies of the Government of Thailand in regard to Burma; what discussions he has had with the Government of Thailand on Burma; and what reports he has received to the statements made by the Prime Minister of Thailand during, and following, his recent visit to Burma. 
Meg Munn: I discussed issues relating to Burma with the Thai Foreign Minister, Noppadon Pattama, on 29 February 2008 during my recent visit to Thailand and again on 11 March, before he visited Burma. Foreign Minister Noppadon assured me that the new Thai Government want to become more actively engaged on Burma as part of a wider Neighbourhood Engagement Policy.
The Thai Government support the good offices mission of the UN Secretary-General to promote peaceful reconciliation in Burma. We noted the warm welcome Thai Prime Minister Samak received during his recent visit to Burma. We believe it is important that the Thai Government should send a clear message on the need for political transformation in Burma. We encourage Prime Minister Samak and other members of the Thai Government to reinforce this message in their contacts with their Burmese counterparts.
We continue to discuss all aspects of the Burma situation with the Thai Government on a regular basis.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last discussed the referendum process in the Western Sahara with representatives of Polisario. 
Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not discussed the Western Sahara referendum process with representatives of the Polisario. However, when officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have met with the Polisario representatives to discuss Western Sahara, they have expressed our hope that a mutually acceptable political solution would be found, which would provide for the self determination of the people of Western Sahara. To this end, the UK fully supports the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and his personal envoy to the Western Sahara, Peter van Walsum.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much his Department and its agencies have spent on Christmas (a) cards, (b) parties and (c) decorations in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Lammy: The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) was created as a result of machinery of government changes in June 2007.
In 2007, DIUS held a competition for further education college students to design an electronic Christmas card for the Department. The competition was won by Matthew Boulton college. This incurred no significant cost to the Department as colleges were individually invited to participate. The prizea trip to a design centre or space centrewas donated by our partners. The DIUS Christmas card was distributed electronically through existing e-mail routes and therefore incurred no significant costs.
DIUS did not purchase any Christmas decorations in 2007, nor did the Department hold a Christmas party. Divisions do hold Christmas parties for staff to attend, for which these staff must pay. Christmas parties are not paid for out of departmental budgets.
Information on expenditure by our agencies on Christmas cards, and decorations is not held centrally by the Department. Therefore this information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what the hourly rates of pay of all non-permanent staff working for his Department and its agencies were in each of the last 12 months; and how many staff were receiving each rate in each of those months. 
It is not possible to provide this information without incurring disproportionate costs of collection. Since the Department was formed by Machinery of Government changes on 28 June 2007 it
has continued to make use of the services of several types of temporary staff, including temporaries and contractors from agencies. Such temporary staff are engaged for a variety of purposes and rates paid reflect the differences between generic and specialist services. Preferential rates of pay and terms of engagement have been negotiated with certain selected agencies under an over-arching framework agreement. This procurement process has the purpose of achieving best value for money and is used across Government.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much his Department, its predecessors and its agencies spent on managing their corporate identities in the last 12 month period for which figures are available. 
Mr. Lammy: Since formation of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills on 28 June 2007, the Department has spent an estimated £38,759.49 on managing its corporate identity. This includes development of the logo, branding guidelines, signposts, display panels and stationery.
The Department is responsible for two agencies, National Weights and Measures Laboratory and the UK Intellectual Property Office.
National Weights and Measures Laboratory have had no spend on managing their corporate identity over the past 12 months.
UK Intellectual Property Office have had no spend on managing their corporate identity over the past 12 months.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills when his Department plans to publish its sustainable operations policy statement. 
Mr. Lammy: We are currently developing our proposals for the Department's sustainable development action plan (SDAP) with a view to publication by the summer.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what his policy is on measures to avoid grade inflation. 
Bill Rammell: UK degrees are internationally competitive qualifications and the value of UK degrees continues to be robust. Higher education institutions, as autonomous bodies, are responsible for the academic standards of the qualifications which they award. It is for each institution to determine its own curricula, organise teaching and learning, and assess and award final degrees.
Institutions are supported by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) which exists to safeguard the public interest in sound standards of higher education qualifications and to encourage continuous improvement in the management of the quality of higher education. The QAA carries out this function by conducting audits of the management of
quality in institutions. One aspect of these audits is to consider how closely institutions follow the QAAs Code of Practice, which includes a section dedicated to the assessment of students. The judgments of the QAA audit teams are made public in published reports. Additionallyand unique to the UKall higher education institutions are expected to appoint external examiners to assist them to monitor the standards of their awards.
Mr. Andy Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what provision is made for deaf people to access services provided by his Department through call centres. 
Mr. Lammy: The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills has its telephone enquiry service provided as a shared service by the Department for Children Schools and Families.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families telephone inquiry service offers a textphone/minicom service for deaf people. They also accept inquiries by email, fax and letter.
On information campaignssuch as provision of Student Financeour advertising directs people to our campaign website which is fully accessible for people with impairments. A textphone number service is available on the aspirational Aimhigher website; and a transcript of the information DVD is also provided.
Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills when he expects to implement the matched funding for funds raised by universities mentioned in the former Prime Minister's comments at Brunel University on 15 February 2007; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: The HE voluntary giving scheme is an unprecedented opportunity for institutions to increase their capacity to attract donations and I am delighted by the amount of enthusiasm it has generated among universities and potential donors. As we have already announced, the start date for donations to be eligible for the scheme will be 1 August 2008 and the matched funding will be paid retrospectively.
Following extensive consultation with the sector and fundraising experts, we will shortly be announcing the final structure and rules of the scheme so that institutions are able to prepare for the start date.
Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what plans he has to increase the higher education (a) budget for and (b) qualifications achieved in prisons. 
The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills set a budget of £547,000 for its support for prisoners studying undergraduate higher education with the Open university in 2007-08. In his written statement of 25 March 2008, the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills said that
he will be considering the future management of financial support for offenders in higher education, based on recommendations from this Department and the Ministry of Justice.
Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many prisoners are participating in (a) distance learning provisions and (b) distance learning provisions provided by the Open university. 
Mr. Lammy: The number of prisoners participating in distance learning provided by the Open university changes from day to day as prisoners start and complete part-time courses of study. On Thursday 20 March 2008, figures from the Open university show that 935 prisoners were studying Open university courses through distance learning. In 2007 a total of 1,372 prisoners undertook one or more Open university courses.
Figures are not collected centrally on the number of prisoners where distance learning other than through the Open university is assessed as the most appropriate means of meeting their learning need.
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