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15 May 2008 : Column 1764Wcontinued
independence of the contractor and ensuring that there is no conflict of interest.
Tenders for the contract to provide advice on finance and ownership issues were assessed according to:
(a) the level of understanding of the issues around tidal power development, UK electricity markets, corporate and public sector finance, and major infrastructure projects investmentin particular the experience and ability to advise on and create novel structures;
(b) the quality of the staff involved and their previous relevant experience;
(c) the quality of management of the organisation and its track record in having carried out similar work;
(d) innovative ideas, methodologies or activities that help to maximise the prospects for achieving the aims and objectives of the study efficiently and effectively;
(e) the independence of the contractor and ensuring that there is no conflict of interest; and
(f) cost and value for money.
9. Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many employers in Copeland have made the skills pledge. 
Mr. Lammy: By March 2008, more than 2,500 employers in England had made the skills pledge, covering more than 3.7 million employees. A number of those employers employ people in the Copeland area, including Tesco, Ford Motor Company, Superdrug and BP. None of the employers who have made the pledge to date have registered their main address as being in the Copeland area; I would welcome the opportunity to work with the hon. Member for Copeland to encourage employers in his constituency to make the pledge.
10. Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what his most recent estimate is of the number of young people aged 16 or over not in education, employment or training. 
In the UK, the proportion of 18 to 25-year-olds not engaged in full-time education or employment is down from 19.4. per cent. in 1997 to 18.1 per cent. today. There are 707,000 in Englandthats 15 per cent. Of these, 243,000 are looking after a family or home. 85,000 own their own home outright, or are buying their own home. Those on out of work
benefits are already subject to conditionality but, as we have already announced, new measures will be taken to ensure that the unemployed, and those on sickness benefits will be given extra help to find work.
18. Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment he has made of the recent trends in the number of young people aged 16 and over not in education, employment or training. 
Mr. Lammy: The responsibility for 16 to 17-year-olds is a matter for the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families and is a shared responsibility for 18-year-olds. The Government are tackling vigorously the important issue of young people not in education, employment or training.
The UK has a dynamic and flexible labour market with one of the highest employment rates in the G7. Youth unemployment has fallen since 1997 and the proportion of 18 to 24-year-olds not engaged in full-time education or employment is down to 18.1 per cent. in the three months ending March 2008 from 19.4 per cent. in 1997. We have seen an increase of 503,000 in the number of 18 to 24-year-olds in full-time education, a rise from 22.7 per cent. to 28.6 per cent.
11. Mr. Slaughter: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps the Government are taking to encourage the training and development of volunteers in Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush. 
Mr. Lammy: Since January this year, voluntary sector organisations have been able to access support through Train to Gain to upskill the volunteers working for them. Government investment in skills through Train to Gain will rise to over £1 billion by 2010-11. In addition, the Learning and Skills Council supports programmes for volunteers like the Torch Project at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith.
12. Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps he is taking to attract more foreign students to the UK. 
Bill Rammell: The second phase of the Prime Minister's Initiative for International Education aims to secure and sustain the UK's position as a leader in international education. We are working with the British Council and a range of partners in the higher education and further education sectors to increase the number of international students studying in the UK and to support UK universities and colleges in developing collaborative partnerships with institutions overseas.
13. Christine Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills if he will make a statement on levels of capital funding for further education colleges. 
£2.4 billion of capital investment has been made in the further education sector, including
investment for information and learning technology (ILT) in the last 10 years, compared to ear marked expenditure of zero pounds in 1997.
A record further £2.3 billion will be invested over the next three yearsenabling us to continue the once in a generation opportunity we have to build world-class further education facilities so the sector can deliver world-class skills.
22. Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what the total capital expenditure was in further education colleges in England in 1997 and 2007; and what plans he has for future expenditure. 
Bill Rammell: The total capital expenditure in further education colleges in England in the financial year 1997-98 was nil. In 2007-08, the LSC forecast outturn indicates that the total capital investmentincluding Information and Learning Technologywas £560 million.
In total across that period, this Government have invested a massive £2.4 billion and will be investing a record further £2.3 billion across the next three years.
24. Ann Coffey: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, what recent assessment he has made of the performance of further education colleges; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: College success rates and inspection grades show strong improvement over recent years. With the LSC, Ofsted and others, we have now developed a wider suite of indicators to identify how the system is performing. These include learner and employer satisfaction rates, destination outcomes, attainment and financial performance measures. Over the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 period, we are developing the Framework for Excellence which will assess individual providers' performance against existing measures as well as these indicators.
14. David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent assessment he has made of the role of the research councils in promoting scientific research in the public sector. 
Ian Pearson: The research councils are responsible for funding research in the higher education sector and in their own institutes. The councils are encouraged, wherever relevant, to work closely with other public sector bodies in delivering their research, but it is the responsibility of those other public bodies to determine their priorities and activities in research.
15. Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment he has made of the adequacy of support available to postgraduate students who attended schools in areas of deprivation. 
Bill Rammell: We have not made any specific assessment. However, research shows that people from disadvantaged areas who achieve first degrees are no less likely to stay on for postgraduate study.
The Governments student support is generally targeted at undergraduates, to widen access and provide the opportunity to study for a first degree. Students of the Post Graduate Certificate in Education are though eligible for means-tested support.
The research councils offer postgraduate awards; and career development loans are also available.
16. Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent discussions he has had with the games industry on software packages for the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in colleges and universities. 
Ian Pearson: The UK Government keep in regular contact with the UK games industry, however no specific meetings or discussions have been held between Ministers and the games industry on software packages for the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in colleges and universities.
17. Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills when he next expects to meet representatives of further education colleges to discuss skills in the construction sector. 
Bill Rammell: Ministerial colleagues and I regularly meet representatives of further education colleges, to discuss skills in all sectors, including construction. These meetings will continue in the future as will meetings with representatives from the construction industry.
19. Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps the Government are taking to improve access to undergraduate courses for those from deprived backgrounds; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Denham: This Government are committed to ensuring that talented people from all backgrounds are able and willing to develop their potential through higher education. We are putting £48 million per year into the Aimhigher programme, have introduced an improved student support package, and launched a prospectus for university links with academies and trusts. In addition, the Aimhigher Associates scheme will see around 5,500 university students providing long-term individual support to more than 21,000 pupils in schools and colleges.
20. Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what consideration he has given to the establishment of a new university in Somerset. 
Mr. Denham: We have responded to the clear demand for local university provision by giving the chance for 20 towns or regions to develop new university centres or campuses by 2014. I am delighted by the interest and enthusiasm which this new University Challenge has generated. Any specific proposal in Somerset would of course be considered on its merits, and such proposals will be assessed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
21. Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps the Government have taken to improve advice and support for adults who are low-skilled. 
Mr. Lammy: We are creating an adult advancement and careers service, to be fully operational from 2010-11, to provide universal, high quality information and advice on careers and skills. With targeted guidance for the low skilled and those who need it most and help that recognises the range of barriers to getting on in learning and work. There will be additional funding of at least £50 million from 2010-11 to support the service.
23. Mr. Devine: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps he is taking to raise the quality of apprenticeships. 
Mr. Lammy: Our strategy to develop and expand apprenticeships to meet the nation's skills needs is outlined in World-class Apprenticeships. We are committed to build an apprenticeship system that meets the needs of employers and which offers all suitably qualified young people a place on an apprenticeship if they wish. To this end we will be publishing a draft Apprenticeship Bill in July which will set out plans to further improve quality.
Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much his Department plans to spend on adult learner grants for adults aged 25 years and over completing their first level three qualification in each of the next three years. 
Bill Rammell: The Adult Learning Grant (ALG) has been available throughout England since September 2007 and during its pilot phase (from 2003) showed that it was successful at helping more individuals raise their skill levels through completing their training and gaining a qualification. It is intended to help low skilled individuals in work on low incomes achieve their first full Level 2 or first full Level 3 qualification. The grant offers up to £30 per week.
The Department has a budget of £32 million for ALG for each of the next three financial years (2008-09, 09-10 and 10-11), which will be allocated in line with applications from adults supported by ongoing marketing of the scheme. Since it began in 2003-04, over 43,000 learners have been helped by ALG. Evaluation of pilots has shown that 80 per cent.
of ALG funded learners study for a Level 3 qualification of which around 12 per cent. of learners were aged 25 and over.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much was spent by his Department on translation and interpretation services in 2007-08, broken down by language. 
Mr. Lammy: The Department has made payments for translation services to the value of £11,094.25 during the financial year 2007-08. To investigate as to whether the cost was for actual translation and interpretation work rather than the additional publishing costs and to breakdown the total cost into language would be at disproportionate cost.
Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what estimate he has made of the proportion of first-time Level 3 adult further education students who are aged between 19 and 25 years. 
Bill Rammell: The information requested is not available. However, we do know that 40 per cent. of full level 3 adult learners in Further Education (excluding work based learning and train to gain) were aged 19-25.
Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much funding for capital expenditure will be available to further education colleges during the current spending review period. 
Bill Rammell: This Government will be investing a record £2.3 billion in the modernisation and renewal of the further education estate during the current CSR periodcompared to ear-marked expenditure of zero pounds in 1997.
This builds on the £2.4 billion invested in the previous 10 years and will enable us to continue the once in a generation opportunity we have to build world-class further education facilities so the sector can deliver world-class skills.
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