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24 Apr 2008 : Column 2186Wcontinued
Mr. Lammy: The information requested is as follows:
The vast majority of internal communications is distributed electronically, including correspondence. All internal publications are distributed through the intranet or email.
For external correspondence, we have data and full monitoring on the shared correspondence service with DCSFwhich covers our Skills and Higher Education policy areas. The combined email/letter split for DIUS and DCSF in 2007 was 63 per cent. email and 37 per cent. letter. In the quarter JanuaryMarch 2008 on the 3,777 DIUS cases answered, 53 per cent. were by email, 47 per cent. by letter.
We do not yet have tracking figures for the shared correspondence service with BERRwho have been dealing with Science and Innovation correspondence since this Department was created in June 2007.
For distribution of publications externally: the Department is able to monitor the number of requests to the publications section of the DIUS corporate site and tracks the number of electronic downloads.
Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much of the budget allocated for spending on higher education in prisons was used to fund the tutorial costs of those students already engaged in courses of higher study in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Bill Rammell: Aside from the Offenders Learning and Skills Units arrangement to support Open University study, there is no budget allocated for spending on higher education in prisons, or for those prisoners released on temporary licence to study full time higher education.
The Department set aside a budget of £287,000 in 2007-08 to meet the additional costs of providing tutorial support for prisoners studying Open University courses. The Open University operates a fee waiver arrangement for prisoners studying second and subsequent course modules; and my Department supports this by meeting the Open Universitys additional costs in providing tutorial support while the learner remains a prisoner.
The Learning and Skills Councils provider of learning and skills for prisoners also provides informal, practical support for Open University and other higher education students who are prisoners as they continue their studies.
Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what proportion of students from EU member states other than the UK received financial assistance from the public purse (a) for tuition fees and (b) living costs in each year for which figures are available. 
EC nationals are eligible for tuition fee support only, provided that they have been ordinarily
resident in the EEA and Switzerland for the three years prior to the start of their course.
The following table shows the number of new and continuing students in each academic year and those who received tuition fee support. Prior to 2006/07, this support was in the form of a means-tested grant. Since 2006/07, new students were eligible to apply for a non-means-tested loan.
10 countries acceded to the EC in May 2004, which has resulted in an increase in student numbers.
|EU domiciled students studying in England by support received|
|EU domiciled students( 1)||Students receiving fee grants( 2)||Students receiving fee loans||Percentage receiving fee grants||Percentage receiving fee loans|
|(1) Source: Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Figures are on a snapshot basis as of the 1 December for comparability across the years.|
(2) Source: Student Loans Company (SLC). Since 2006/07 a student may be in receipt of either a grant (continuing students) or a loan (new students).
Only EEA and Swiss migrant workers and certain family members who have been ordinarily resident in the EEA and Switzerland and EC nationals who have been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands may be eligible to the full support package.
Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what proportion of 18 to 30-year-olds received a student loan in each year since 1997, broken down by local government area. 
Bill Rammell: Information on the proportion of students taking out loans is not available at a local authority level or by age group. National information is shown in the table.
|Eligibility and take-up of maintenance loans in England a cademic y ears 2001/02 to 2006/07( 1)|
|Academic year||Eligible Population ( Thousand )||Number of loans taken out ( Thousand )||Take up of loans by eligible population ( Percentage )|
n/a = not available
Loan figures provided by Student Loans Company
Consistent national information is not available before 2001/02. In addition to the maintenance loans covered in the table, tuition fee loans have been available to eligible students from 2006/07. In that year 387,000 tuition fee loans were taken out.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what criteria the Government use in determining its policy on whether Abkhazia should be recognised as an independent country. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The Government do not recognise Abkhazia as an independent state, but consider it to be part of the territory of Georgia which the UK recognised in 1992.
The international community has consistently reaffirmed Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty including through successive UN Security Council Resolutions on Georgia, most recently UN Security Council Resolution 1781 (2007) of 15 October 2007, in which the Security Council
reaffirms the commitment of all member states to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders.
Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will provide a line-item breakdown of contracts with private military and security companies in Afghanistan for 2006-07 indicating which line-items (a) are new, (b) have received increased funding and (c) have received decreased funding since 2005. 
David Miliband: It is not possible to provide a line-item breakdown of contracts with private military and security companies in Afghanistan in 2006-07 for reasons of commercial confidentiality and security, although I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (Mr. Moore) on 14 November 2007, Official Report, column 319W, and also to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) on 20 March 2007, Official Report, column 841W, which detail the overall value of our security contracts in Afghanistan.
I can confirm that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had two main contracts with private and military security companies in Afghanistan in financial year 2006-07, the first for security services and the second for police mentors and advisers. The security services contract was re-tendered in late 2006 and the police mentors and advisers contract was tendered in mid 2007. Both were awarded to ArmorGroup Services Limited.
The security services and the police mentors and advisers contracts have both received increased funding since 2005.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many applications there were for (a) Chevening and (b) Commonwealth scholarships in each of the last five years. 
David Miliband: Applications for Chevening and Commonwealth scholarships are made respectively to our overseas posts and to nominating agencies in Commonwealth countries. It would incur disproportionate cost to compile these figures.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports his Department has received of (a) bomb threats in Santiago, Chile since 17 March 2008, (b) the explosion of an incendiary device on 19 March 2008 and (c) the Government of Chile's response to these events; what assessment he has made of these matters; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: A number of institutions in Santiago, including offices and the main court building, received bomb threats in the lead up to 29 March 2008, the anniversary of the 1985 assassination of brothers Rafael and Eduardo Vergara Toledo by the Pinochet regime. At 01.00 local time on 18 March, an explosive device was detonated outside a branch of Banco de Credito e Inversiones in the Providencia district of Santiago. There was extensive damage to the building as a result of the blast but no injuries were reported.
Local anarchist groups have claimed responsibility. The Chilean authorities are investigating the incidents.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports his Department has received of the policies (a) proposed and (b) implemented by Zhang Qingli in his capacity as Deputy Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Committee from 2004 to 2006; what assessment he has made of such policies; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: We have not made an assessment of Zhang Qinglis policies during his tenure from 2004 to 2006 as deputy secretary in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. We do however continue to monitor the situation in Xinjiang and remain concerned by reports of human rights violations in the region, including restrictions on the peaceful exercise of political, cultural and religious rights. We regularly raise these concerns with the Chinese Government and did so most recently at the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue, which took place in Beijing in January.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports his Department has received of the activities of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps in China; and if he will make a statement. 
The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) is a governmental organisation based in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR). We understand that the XPCC effectively has administrative authority over a number of cities, farms and settlements across the XUAR region and performs governmental functions such as health care, education and civil policing for areas under its jurisdiction. In this context, we are
also aware that the XPCC has a role in running some prisons in the area. The stated goals of the XPCC are to develop frontier regions, promote economic development, ensure social stability and ethnic harmony, and counter the East Turkestan independence movement.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports his Department has received of the policies (a) proposed and (b) implemented by Zhang Qingli since his election as Secretary of the Communist Party of China Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee; what assessment he has made of such policies; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: We recognise that Zhang Qingli has been party secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region since 2005 and as such has been responsible for implementing Beijings policies, including the Develop the West campaign and Chinas policies designed to promote economic development in Tibet. While we welcome the economic development in Tibet, we hope that more will be done to ensure that Tibetans will benefit. We continue to raise our concerns on Tibet with the Chinese Government, in particular with regard to the handling of recent unrest in the region.
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